Are there cases of young people refusing to do army service?

Grigori Reznichenko ::: Young people in the USSR. Answers to questions

No. And there are a number of reasons for this. For one thing the Soviet Army has never fought a war of aggression, and it has never served interests alien to the people. On the contrary, it has always defended what the people cherish. So young people have come to regard service in the Armed Forces not as an unpleasant duty, but as an honour. The Soviet Army was founded to defend the Revolution, and at the beginning service was voluntary. Only the external danger posed to the nation forced us to introduce conscription.

During the Civil War (1918-1920), 14 foreign countries backed the counter-revolutionary forces in Russia. But the people succeeded in defending their freedom and independence against heavy odds. Half of the officers and men of the Red Army, as it was known at that time, were young people under the age of 23. The Komsomol, then just founded, ini­tiated three nationwide mobilisation campaigns. Dur­ing the war against Nazi Germany (1941-1945), something like 11 million members of the Komsomol fought on the fronts and in partisan units. Many of them received military decorations for their he­roism. Of the 11,358 Heroes of the Soviet Union, were members of the Komsomol.

Soviet people honour the memory of their sol­diers. A couple of years ago, young people in this country launched a patriotic campaign. Schoolchild­ren, students, and young workers and collective farm­ers visited the places where the biggest battles against the fascists were fought. They found photo­graphs, documents and other war evidence and these formed the nucleus of small war memorial museums at schools or factories.

It is things like that that shape a youngster's atti­tude to army service. But there are also other things, more commonplace, but no less important. Army service varies from two to three years, depending on the branch of the Army in which a young man serves. During his service, his job is kept open for him and living accommodations are reserved. On

completing service, he is entitled to a number of privileges, including some affecting college enroll­ment.

The years a young man spends in the Army are not lost years. He grows up, physically and morally. Many acquire a speciality that serves them well in their subsequent civilian life.