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Russian seven year old gets army call-up papers

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image copyrightOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images
image captionMilitary service normally begins at 18

A boy in Russia's Far East was surprised to receive his military call-up papers this week - in particular because he's only seven years old.

Sasha Gumenyuk received the letter from the recruitment office in the city of Ussuriysk, telling him to show up at his local draft office to prepare for a year of square-bashing, the UssurMedia news site reports.

Local media reported earlier that another two seven-year-olds had also received letters, but the military authorities are adamant that only one primary schoolboy was involved.

"The children's hospital made a mistake in the list of young men born in 2001 that it sent us, confusing 2010 for 2001 in this case," the recruitment office told RIA Novosti news agency.

It reassured the young man that he did not have to present himself for service, and "won't be punished for non-appearance", especially as the letter was more about preparations for the draft rather than immediate call-up.

image copyrightInstagram
image captionLittle Sasha's family posted the call-up papers online

The boy's family took the news in their stride by posting the letter on Instagram, where it has become something of a meme. "Ussuriysk means getting your call-up papers aged seven!" reads one popular version.

"We'll turn up as ordered, as we don't want to be taken for draft-dodgers," Sasha's proud grandfather noted. He also made it clear that the online posting was not intended to humiliate anyone. "It was just a laugh," he told Ren TV.

Little Sasha regrets that he will have to disappoint the army again. "I have just one dream - to join the police, not to be a soldier," he told the Mash Telegram channel.

But one online commentator reminds him that the "police won't take him until he's done his military service".

image copyrightRussian Ministry of Defence
image captionIf the hat fits

Reporting by Martin Morgan

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