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Zelensky's party top lawmaker reveals potential changes to mobilization bill

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 8, 2024 3:01 PM 3 min read
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on August 23, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Andrii Nesterenko/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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David Arakhamia, the head of President Volodymyr Zelensky's party in the Ukrainian parliament, said on Feb. 8 that a specialized committee would revise several norms of the updated bill on mobilization before its second reading.

Ukraine's government hopes to update the legal framework around conscription in order to ramp up mobilization in 2024. The parliament is now considering a new draft of the mobilization law after its initial, contentious version was withdrawn.

The parliament supported the updated bill in the first reading on Feb. 7, but lawmakers still have doubts about some of its legislative norms, according to Arakhamia.

Arakhamia called "absolutely unacceptable" the bill's proposal to allow the blocking of bank accounts of citizens who evade military service, adding that he didn't see any support for this proposal among lawmakers.

Other issues with the bill that the committee would revise include the proposal to strip post-graduate students whose education is not funded by the state of the right to defer military service, Arakhamia said on Telegram.

Ukrainian post-graduate students criticized the proposal as "a step backward for the education and science of Ukraine." According to them, the number of post-graduate students whose education is state-funded is only 5-10% of the total enrollment.

"There is no final decision yet, we will look for a compromise," commented Arakhamia.

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He added that his faction aims to keep the rules regarding people with disabilities and their caregivers as in the current mobilization legislation. People with any kind of disabilities are currently exempt from military service.

The first version of the mobilization bill proposed to allow drafting people with milder disabilities, but the proposal caused controversy and was dropped in the updated bill.

"We are also working in an inter-factional group on other items of the draft law. We must balance the interests of the military command, business, and citizens. The task is not easy, there will be much work," concluded Arakhamia.

The government submitted a new draft of the mobilization law to parliament on Jan. 30 after the first version sparked concerns about potential violation of human rights.

The initial bill proposed, among other things, restrictions on draft evaders, such as banning them from traveling abroad, restricting their rights to drive a vehicle or obtain a driver's license, and suspending their benefits and services from the state.

Chief Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on Feb. 6 that the revised draft law on mobilization still contains provisions that violate Ukraine's Constitution.

However, Lubinets then had an "urgent meeting" with Defense Minister Rustem Umerov and said he concluded the draft law should be adopted in the first reading, adding that any concerns could be solved before the second reading.

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Ukraine’s leadership is seeking to kickstart a mobilization campaign to replenish the ranks in 2024. For that, it needs an updated legal framework. The government submitted a new draft of the mobilization law to Ukraine’s parliament on Jan. 30, more than two weeks after withdrawing its initial, con…
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