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Alternative service in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

"Alternative civil service is a special kind of work in the interests of the society and state, carried by citizens instead of military service".

The Federal Law "On Alternative Civil Service", Article 1, Part 1, extraction.

“A citizen of the Russian Federation in the event that his convictions or religious belief contradict military service has the right to substitute alternative civilian service. "

The Constitution of the Russian Federation, Article 59, Part 3, extraction

Russia was the first country in the world, which introduced the institution of alternative service. Exemption from military service on religious grounds became to be practiced in our country in the XVIII century.

After the 1917 Revolution, Soviet Russia, along with Britain and Denmark, became one of the first countries in the twentieth century, which recognised the right of its citizens to refuse from military service for reasons of conscience.

On 4 January 1919, Decree "On exemption from military service on religious grounds" was issued. This document was the first legislative act of the Soviet Republic, which gave the real right to religious exemption from military service.

In the summer of 1923, the Civil Procedure Code of the RSFSR, which contained special chapter "On exemption from military service on religious convictions", was adopted. It regulated the procedure for court proceedings. Courts with experts’ participation determined, what exact kind of work was assigned instead of military service, where and in what period of time a citizen should arrive to carry out his duties.

However, two years later, the circle of persons, who may exercise the right to conscientious objection to military service was significantly narrowed. Alternative service was abolished in the Soviet Union altogether in 1939, when the Second World War began in Europe.

The restoration of this social institution resurfaced only after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1993, the RF Constitution adopted by nationwide vote enshrined the right of Russian citizens to replace military service with alternative civil service in accordance with peacemaking, philosophical, moral-ethical, political or religious convictions. The fundamental principles of the ACS are as follows:

• Only those citizens, who are deemed as fitting for military service, or fitting for it with minor limitations, can be directed to alternative civil service;

• Citizens do alternative civil service, as a rule, outside the territory of those Russian Federation’s Subjects, where they reside. However, this is not a hard rule. The place of service is determined by the Federal Service for Labour and Employment in accordance with the lists of occupations annually approved and the labour market situation;

• Citizens may perform alternative civil service exclusively at state-owned enterprises;

• Citizens, who have chosen the ACS, may not on their own initiative terminate employment contracts, be engaged in strikes, earn part-time in other organisations;

• Representatives of indigenous peoples are directed for passing ACS to organisations of the traditional economies and traditional crafts;

• The term of alternative civil service exceeds compulsory military service’s term.

Now, the ACS’ passing is regulated by Federal Law "On Alternative Civil Service". The scheme of sending citizens to alternative civil service is as follows:

• Citizens should file an application for replacement of military service with ACS to the military commissariat, and the draught commission should should make a decision on the basis of the application;

• Military Commissar sends a citizen to the place of his ACS in accordance with the Plan of Direction, approved by the Federal Service for Labour and Employment;

• Citizens, who have chosen ACS, may occupy only those positions and only in those organisations, which are contained in the official list approved annually by the Ministry of Public Health and Social Development;

• labour activities of citizens doing alternative civil service are regulated by the Labour Code of the Russian Federation.

Since 1 January 2008, the AGS term for citizens sent to serve under its conditions amounts:

• 21 months – for citizens, who perform AGS at organizations subordinate to the federal bodies of executive power as well as the bodies of executive power of Subjects of the Russian Federation;
• 18 months – for citizens, who perform AGS at organizations of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, other Forces, military formations and bodies, as civilian personnel employees.

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