Russian seminary students exempted from mandatory military service


Eastern Europe


Young men walk in front of a billboard promoting contract army service with an image of a serviceman and the slogan reading "Serving Russia is a real job" in Saint Petersburg. Photo AFP, Olga Maltseva

On 5 October, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, released an updated list of those who would be deferred from partial mobilisation and conscription, according to the Kremlin’s website.

As detailed in the [amended document] (http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/69524), the new exemptions apply to “first-time students” studying in “religious educational organisations for educational programs aimed at training ministers and religious personnel of religious organisations…”

Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) Archpriest, Maxim Kozlo, said to <a href=" RIA Novosti" target="_blank">https://ria.ru/20221009/ukaz-1822671161.html) that he welcomes the changes, which will affect at least 8,000 students studying in full and part-time programs.

“Today, our students, and their number is no less than 8,000 people, are under the protection of today’s edition of the decree – for which we are, of course, grateful, because a clergyman, future and current, cannot take up arms with the intent to kill. He can and should defend his homeland in a different way, and historically the priesthood has always been present at the fronts in difficult times, but precisely for the purpose of spiritual support for the soldiers, and not for personal participation in hostilities," he said.

Some ROC seminaries have received subpoenas (documents verifying a student’s status within the ROC), but Kozlov said that the cases have been resolved.

Alexei Gorbachev, rector of the Eurasian Theological Seminary (EABU), also sees the deferment as a blessing. EABU is registered as a “spiritual education organisation” and possesses a state license for their training programs. These make the process easier for theological institutions applying for deferment, Gorbachev said in a Russian United Union of Evangelical Christians interview. However, as detailed in the report, limitations do apply to the amended measures, he said. If a church program does not possess a “seminary license,” or if student is studying in more than one program, then the exemptions no longer apply

“The respite granted to the students of the seminary is not a reason to hide from the difficulties of the present time, but an opportunity, having received legal protection, to more actively serve people who today are faced with the challenges of uncertainty, with fears, and, perhaps, with some losses,” Gorbachev said regarding the deferment.

According to a National Public Radio (NPR) article, President Vladimir Putin signed a “partial-mobilisation” decree on 21 September, which would require Russians with military experience to fight in the Ukraine war. The report also said that Putin would “use all available means” when it comes to defending the country.



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