Russian lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a bill that would oblige draft-age men to report for military service even if they have not received a conscription notice.
The legislation, which passed in the first of three readings in the State Duma late on April 3, appears to be aimed at improving conscription rates in Russia, where a lawmaker said recently that some 164,000 men are currently evading the draft.
Under the legislation, call-up notices would be delivered to future conscripts by registered mail-delivery services and could be signed for by adult relatives or legal representatives.
If the addressee does not receive the summons for some reason, he would be obliged to report for service anyway.
Failure to do so -- or refusal to accept a summons -- would be considered evasion of the draft, which is punishable by up to one year in prison or service in a disciplinary battalion of the military.
The bill received 341 votes in favor in the 450-seat Duma, the lower parliament house. If given final approval in the Duma, it will go to the upper house and then to President Vladimir Putin for his signature.
A deputy chairman of the Duma defense committee, Andrei Krasov, said earlier that about 164,000 men in Russia are currently evading 12-month military conscription, which is mandatory for men aged 18-27.
Deferments are provided to university students, men holding a Ph.D degree, men providing the sole support for disabled relatives, parents of at least two children, and some employees of military-oriented enterprises.
The sons and brothers of servicemen killed or disabled during military service are released from conscription.
The Russian armed forces have more than 1 million personnel, of which one-third are conscripts and the others serving under contracts.