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History of Conscription

Conscription appeared in our country many centuries ago. There was a well-organized army even in medieval Moscovy. Permanent service was performed by noblemen, and the rest of the population were called up only in the cases of a special need. At the turn of XV-XVI centuries the cavalry was the main military power, and during the reign of Ivan the Terrible the infantry began to play important role in ensuring the security of the country. The first permanent foot host was comprised of the Streltsy (Russian guardsmen from the 16th to the early 18th century, armed with firearms).

However, the fully fledged regular army appeared in the Russian state only during the reign of Pyotr (Peter) I on the base of recruitment, which covered the peasants, commoners and other taxable social classes. Conscription was communal and lifelong.

Further major transformations were associated with the reign of Aleksandr II. In 1862, he freed from the duties of nobles, and later representatives of some other social classes, merchants and the clergy. Thus, the basis of the army consisted of peasants and townspeople. However, later, in 1874, the Emperor of Russia introduced universal personal conscription, which was subject to all of the male population over 21 years of age. In addition, from this point extended to all nationalities living in Russia.
At the beginning of the XX century
, the term of active service in the infantry and foot artillery was 3 years, in other combat ground troops – 4 years, in navy – 5 years. Certain categories of citizens were granted. For example, the service term for the young people, who completed a course of educational institution of the 1st grade (and grammar school of the 6th grade) was 2 years. Those totally incapable of bearing arms for health were exempted from the service fully. Some ministers of the church were also relieved of military service.
Terms of conscription were tightened again after the Bolsheviks came to power. Resolution of 1918 "On compulsory recruitment into the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army" had a clearly
marked class character and provide for compulsory military service for workers under 18 years of age. Later, in 1930, the new Soviet law – "On compulsory military service" – was adopted, which declared that the defenсe of the Soviet Union in arms was carried out only by workers. To the non-working classes fulfillment of other duties – the army’s supply – was entrusted. Thus, there remains a class approach to the execution of military service by the citizens.

In 4 years after the end of the Great Patriotic War the law was adopted, according to which the call of male citizens was held once a year in November-December. Later, the Armed Forces of the USSR established new terms of service: in the Land Force (LF) and Air Force (AiF) – 3 years, in the Navy – 4. Later, in 1968, the term of military service was reduced to 2 years in the LF and to 3 years – in the Navy. Graduates of educational institutions that did not receive military training served one year. In addition to the autumn call-up the spring one was introduced.

Currently, the main piece of legislation for the recruits is the Federal Law of 28 March 1998 "On Military Duty and Military Service". According to the amendments introduced, since 2008 the term of military service in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on conscription has made up 1 year for the Russian male citizens.

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