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Odesa enlistment office investigates report of 14-year-old kidnapped by men in uniform

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 7, 2024 9:40 PM 2 min read
Illustrative photo of the port of Odesa seen on Aug. 26, 2022. (Ximena Borrazas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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The Odesa regional military enlistment office is looking into reports by local media of a 14-year-old boy detained by men in military uniforms, the office said on April 7.

"Regarding the accusations of employees (of military enlistment) detaining a minor in the Izmail district, an official review is being carried out," the enlistment office wrote in a Facebook post. "All circumstances of the event are being carefully studied."

The publication Bessarabia Inform reported of a 14-year-old boy who was taken off the street by men with machine guns and thrown into a bus, before being released when they realized his age, according to the Pryozerne village council's Department of Social Protection. The incident took place on April 2, according to Bessarabia Inform.

The boy was an orphan and had been walking in his village of Pryozerne when he was taken off the street by three armed men, with a fourth man as a driver, the article explained. He was then restrained and beaten on the bus.

The men reportedly did not initially believe he was 14, then released him after seeing his passport. The men threatened the boy not to reveal what had happened, according to Bessarabia Inform.

The Odesa regional military enlistment office said it had provided information to law enforcement agencies conducting the investigation.

Mobilization has been a key concern throughout the full-scale war, but has become increasingly pressing as Ukraine seeks to replenish the ranks after the battles of 2023. Ukraine is currently trying to pass a new draft law on mobilization.

The push to mobilize is a contentious topic in Ukrainian society, and videos regularly emerge on social media of Ukrainian men being packed into minibuses by armed, uniformed enlistment officers.

Last August, Ukraine's Security Service announced that more than 112 cases of abuse by military recruitment officers had been brought to investigation since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. Many of the cases involved corruption, with officers using their positions for personal enrichment.

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