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Print out date: 07.08.2020 12:36
24.07.2019 22:32 Society

Lukashenka signs draft deferment bill into law

By Zakhar Shcharbakow, BelaPAN
Minsk, 24 July. Alyaksandr Lukashenka on July 24 signed into law a bill of amendments aimed at reducing what Defense Minister Andrey Rawkow described as legal opportunities for avoiding being called up for military service.

The new law pursues the objective of “maintaining the combat capability of the Belarusian Armed Forces amid heightened military activities in the world and Europe,” said the presidential press office.

The law is expected to help solve the problem of a shortage of soldiers, which is caused by a decrease in the number of draft-age men, and in view of the fact that there are currently 76 categories of men eligible for exemption from compulsory military service in Belarus, the press office said.

At the same time the law does not change the existing legal grounds for deferment from military service for health and family reasons, the press office said.

The law, which passed the House of Representatives on June 28 by a vote of 85-9 and the Council of the Republic on the same day, abolishes education deferments from military service for university graduates.

A draft-age man leaving a vocational school will not be granted deferment for university studies and university graduates will have to do military service before entering a postgraduate program.

Those who have not done compulsory military service without a valid excuse will be barred from becoming public servants or joining the police, the State Control Committee’s Financial Investigations Department, the emergency management ministry, the Investigative Committee and the State Forensic Examination Committee.

Foreign travel bans will be imposed on draftees failing to present themselves at military registration and conscription offices and on those who deliberately choose not to notify military authorities of their new place of residence to avoid receiving a call-up notice.

The law amends the Education Code to provide that a university graduate who signs up for military service instead of working in an assigned job upon graduation for a certain period of time, and serves with the army for no less time shall be exempted from paying compensation to the state for the expenses on his university training.

“One of the bill’s objectives is to increase the number of conscript soldiers to meet the Armed Forces’ demand,” Defense Minister Rawkow told reporters on June 26. “Another objective is to enhance the prestige of the civil service.”

According to him, each conscription campaign sees about 4,000 draft evasions. In addition, there are some 2,000 to 3,000 men who are granted deferment from military service to continue their studies.

Everyone, especially men, must defend the Motherland, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on July 2, speaking at a grand meeting held in Minsk on the occasion of Independence Day.

According to the Belarusian leader, those who criticize the draft deferment bill in online comments are mostly those who express concern about threats to the independence and state sovereignty of Belarus.

“I warned you that sovereignty and independence would cost a lot, and not only in monetary terms,” Mr. Lukashenka said. “Our society took up the idea of sovereignty and independence with enthusiasm, particularly those who make comments today. But when issues of military duty and the price of independence – at least for the sake of defending sovereignty – arose, everyone cried ‘No!’”

As Mr. Lukashenka said, the Belarusians have three options regarding defense against military aggression.

One of the options is to ask NATO for protection, he noted. “If we beg them for it, they will promise it to us. And those who make online comments would welcome this with pleasure. Do you accept this option? I don`t,” he said.

Another option is to be incorporated into Russia, Mr. Lukashenka said. “Do you want to become part of Russia so that it defends us? You don`t. Neither do I,” he said.

The only acceptable option is that the Belarusians should defend themselves on their own, Mr. Lukashenka stressed, adding that those who criticizing the bill in online comments agree with this, but believe that someone else, not them, should defend the country.





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