Russia took a step back toward its Soviet past Friday by giving preliminary
approval to a law making military training mandatory in all elementary
The State Duma lower house of parliament passed the legislation in the
first of three required readings by a 338-42 vote.
Russian schools abandoned mandatory military training after the Soviet
Union collapsed in 1991 and the subject has only been taught on a voluntary
basis and with parents' permission since then.
But the new rule would stipulate that training becomes mandatory for
both boys and girls in the last two years of elementary school.
The draft system still functions in Russia and all elementary school
students who fail to make it into university are expected to enlist when
they leave school.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has supported the legislation as a
way of reintroducing morale to a Russian military that remains bogged
down in its second war in the separatist republic of Chechnya over the