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Convicts to serve in separate units of Ukrainian forces, justice minister says

by Kateryna Hodunova and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 28, 2024 9:56 AM 2 min read
Justice Minister Denys Maliuska gives an interview with Ukrainian news media on Feb. 29, 2024 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Vitalii Nosach/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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Convicts released under a new law will serve in separate units of the Ukrainian military, Justice Minister Denys Maliuska said on national television on May 27.

Ukraine's parliament passed a bill on May 8 permitting those convicted under certain charges to serve in the Armed Forces, paving the way for the voluntary mobilization of prisoners. President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the bill into law on May 17.

Maliuska said earlier in May that Ukraine could fill its ranks with as many as 20,000 convicts in a move that would also help ease overcrowding in Ukrainian prisons.

Units with former prisoners will be established for assault operations and not involve other military personnel, Maliuska said.

Justice Minister: Nearly 350 prisoners have been released to join army after new conscription law
Nearly 350 prisoners have been released from detention to serve in the military after a new conscription law took effect, Justice Minister Denys Maliuska told the New York Times in an interview on May 24.

The minister added that the Ukrainian command could mix former prisoners with other military units in the future, considering their performance on the battlefield.

At least 613 prisoners had been released thanks to the new conscription law as of May 27, according to Maliuska. The newcomers are currently undergoing training that will last "at least a couple of months," the minister said.

The judiciary has received 4,300 applications so far and is already considering most of them, according to the Justice Ministry.

Those released will reportedly be supervised by the military units they enlist in and cannot leave their units without their commanders' permission.

Under the new rules, the list of convicted citizens who were allowed to be drafted does not include those convicted of premeditated murder, sexual violence, drug trafficking and production, or crimes against national security.

Based on suggestions of the anti-corruption parliamentary committee, the measure will also exclude lawmakers and top officials imprisoned for corruption.

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