On 1 January 2004, the Russian law on conscientious objection entered into force (for a detailed analysis of the law see WRI's Russia report from September 2003). According to the law, substitute service lasts 1.75 times as long as military service (42 month compared to 24 month). According to a report by Novosti, General Vasily Smirnov, Head of the Mobilisation Department of the Russian Armed Forces' General Staff, said: "In the fall of 2004, 616 citizens filed applications for the replacement of draft military service with alternative civilian service. These applications are currently under consideration". Some of those won't be called up for alternative service, however, as they have legitimate grounds for draft exemption or postponement.
According to Sergei Krivenko, secretary of the coalition For Democratic Alternative Civilian Service, the main problem with alternative service at present is the lack of service places. He said that 59 draftees are currently performing alternative service, almost all of them members of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The majority are serving close to their place of residence, and in welfare institutions such as nursing homes. However, some are sent to military plants and construction sites, which does not really fit the criteria of a genuine civilian service.Source: Russia's Defense Authorities Optimistic About Future of Alternative Service Programs. Novosti Russian News and Information Agency, 15 December 2004