MOSCOW, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Russians are split on preserving the military draft, with 48 percent approving it and 40 percent preferring professional soldiers, a poll said Tuesday.
The poll was taken by the independent Levada Center, and noted 48 percent of respondents said they would like their children to enter military service, while 33 percent would prefer to help their relatives avoid it.
All Russian men, ages 18 to 27, are required by law to perform a year of military service, although the shortest current service contract is two years, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti said, adding the country is shifting away from a large, conscripted military to a smaller professional force.
Government data indicate the current strength of the Russian armed forces is an estimated 774,500 personnel, lower than the preferred level of 1 million. About 300,000 more are enrolled in each draft.
The poll of 1,603 respondents across 48 Russian regions was conducted Jan. 24-27 and has a margin of error of less than 3.4 percent, the Levada Center said.