Russian academics, scientists and creative artists last week appealed to President Yeltsin not to approve a military service law which envisages the compulsory drafting of all new graduates and extends the term of army service from 18 months to two years.
The law was adopted by the state duma, the lower house of parliament, earlier this month. The appeal, whose signatories include the rector of Moscow State University and the president of the Association of Russian Higher Education Institutions, warns that the new law could produce a "sharp deterioration in the social situation ".
The same day the independent "Students Protection" trade union announced that it was planning "drastic measures" in defence of rights. As well as opposing the national service law, students are angry at a government resolution that would pay scholarships only to students who score top grades. According to Dmitri Petrov, chairman of the union's Moscow branch, "students do not want to live in a system imposed on them".
The union is planning to set up a protest camp of tents on the campus of Moscow University for the May Day holiday, Mr Petrov said. If the union's demands are ignored, he "does not exclude the possibility " of the students seizing government buildings and "wrecking" the army call-up.