Church urges army service for Russian opposition

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A top Russian Orthodox Church official has urged the authorities to enlist opposition leaders in the army and not be afraid to launch wars aimed at averting social revolutions in nearby states.

Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin told Moscow radio that Russia faced serious social risks from the massive rallies that rocked Moscow in the wake of fraud-tainted parliamentary elections last month.

Chaplin -- seen as a close adviser to Patriarch Kirill and one of the most influential voices in the conservative Russian Church -- suggested deploying "a powerful Russian military presence" in neighbouring ex-Soviet nations.

"We should not be afraid of this, even if it means that Russia will have to get involved in wars," Chaplin said in an interview originally aired Thursday and widely debated Friday on popular Russian websites.

"It is time to give the army a real assignment," the Church leader said.

"The social network hamsters may just as well be assigned to active military duty," he said in reference to the opposition movement's growing presence on the Russian Internet.

The fractured movement against Vladimir Putin's 12-year dominance over Russian politics and expected return to the presidency in March elections is planning to stage its third mass protest since the parliamentary vote on February 4.

The first two rallies drew tens of thousands onto the streets of Moscow for the first time since the turbulent 1990s and prompted the Kremlin to propose measures aimed at easing some of the political restriction imposed by Putin.

But the former KGB chief has dismissed calls for a rerun of the legislative election and has argued that talks with the protest movement were impossible because it neither had a leader nor a formal programme.

© 2012 AFP

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