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State Bureau of Investigation says it uncovered 'unprecedented' scheme to evade mobilization

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 1, 2023 8:07 PM 2 min read
State Bureau of Investigation (SBR) officers at work in an undated photo. (State Bureau of Investigation)
This audio is created with AI assistance

An investigation by Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation (SBR) revealed a widespread scheme in which regional military enlistment offices received bribes in exchange for helping people evade mobilization, the SBR wrote on Nov. 1.

The scheme involved nine military recruitment officers, as well as other accomplices, and was allegedly organized by the former head of the Kyiv Regional Military Commissariat. It was primarily located in Kyiv Oblast, but involved individuals operating elsewhere in Ukraine.

The alleged facts of the scheme are similar to instances of corruption or other violations at enlistment offices reported before.

Essentially, the conspirators worked together to forge documents for a fee that would declare "clients" unfit for military service, usually for health reasons, thereby helping individuals evade mobilization. This could also include help crossing the border out of Ukraine.

According to the preliminary details of the investigation, at least 100 people were suspected of using falsified documents to leave the country- after paying significant fees to those operating the scheme.

The cost of arranging the creation of doctored medical forms or other falsified documents, as well as potentially assisting in actually leaving Ukraine, ranged from $6,000-10,000.

The report alleged that 40 instances of money changing hands between clients and conspirators were fully documented.

The SBR noted that the investigation is thus far incomplete, and more individuals may be eventually implicated.

A nationwide inspection of Ukraine's recruitment offices in August 2023 revealed multiple violations, including corruption, abuse of power, and fraud, prompting President Volodymyr Zelensky to fire the heads of all regional military enlistment offices.

Zelensky said that a total of 112 criminal cases have been opened against Ukrainian enlistment officials, and 33 people have been charged.

This spotlight on problems within the military enlistment system in August did not mean the end of abuses there, however.

Two officials of a Ternopil military enlistment office were arrested on Oct. 12 on charges of torture and illegal imprisonment after a video surfaced depicting the staff members violently beating two recruits.

Poll: Besides war, Ukrainians most concerned about corruption
Corruption, along with low salaries and pensions, ranks as the top concern of Ukrainians besides Russia’s ongoing war, a poll released on Nov. 1 by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) found.

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