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PM Shmyhal orders government to reconsider rules for exemptions from military service

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 9, 2024 10:28 PM 3 min read
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv on Feb. 26, 2024. (Eugen Kotenko / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on April 9 that he ordered relevant ministries to introduce "updated, more fair" rules on exempting employees of "critically important" companies from military service.

His statement follows a recent decision by the Culture Ministry to give this status to a number of TV channels, circuses, and other cultural institutions.

As Kyiv expects to face a renewed Russian offensive in late spring or early summer, the Ukrainian government aims to update the legal framework around mobilization in order to ramp up its number of available troops in 2024.

Shmyhal said that he ordered "to define an exhaustive list of critical infrastructure facilities and enterprises," adding that "clear and understandable criteria are needed so that neither the military nor the public have any questions as to why certain people are exempt (from military service) in our state."

The Culture Ministry has issued decrees designating dozens of media companies and TV channels, including those participating in Ukraine's TV marathon, "as critically important for the functioning of the economy and ensuring the livelihood of the population in a special period."

This status has also been given to several circuses, theaters, operas, and other cultural institutions across Ukraine, prompting active discussions among Ukrainians.

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The Culture Ministry defended its move on April 9, saying that the government must ensure "at least the minimum functioning capacity" of the country's cultural institutions that continued their work despite war.

"Perhaps it is not entirely correct to call cultural institutions enterprises that are 'critically important for the functioning of the economy.' It would be correct to call them critically important for our life, spiritual stability, and resistance," the ministry's statement reads.

"We believe that the hate around the topic of (exemptions from military service) for cultural and media workers is disrespectful for people who do their work honestly and good, a primitive assessment of their social importance, as well as the general importance of culture in a country at war."

According to the ministry, 1,150 cultural workers and over 700 media employees across Ukraine have so far received exemptions from military service.

"After obtaining the status of critical importance, an institution submits to the ministry a list of draft-eligible men who are offered for deferment of military service for the period of martial law," adds the statement.

"The number of such persons cannot exceed 50% of the total number of draft-eligible employees of the enterprise."

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