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Ukrainian court releases first prisoners to join army under new conscription rules

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 23, 2024 5:08 PM 2 min read
Lukyanivska Prison in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 19, 2016. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Vitaliy Holovin/Corbis via Getty Images)
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A court in Ukraine's Khmelnytskyi Oblast ruled on May 22 to release two prisoners who have volunteered to join the army, marking the first instance in which prisoners were freed from detention on the condition they enter military service.

Ukraine's parliament passed a bill on May 8 that permits those convicted of certain offenses to serve in the military, paving the way for the voluntary mobilization of prisoners. President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the bill into law on May 17.

The proposal was first submitted to the parliament in March as part of Ukraine's efforts to replenish the ranks of the Armed Forces amid the ongoing war with Russia.

The court said that the two men had been convicted of theft in 2022 and sentenced to four years and nine months and five years and five months in prison, respectively.

The parolees must be placed under the supervision of the military units they enroll in, and are unable to leave their units without the permission of their commanders.

The court will also consider the cases of 50 other convicts who have expressed an interest in joining the army.

Justice Minister Denys 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.

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, lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak said.

Defense Ministry: 700,000 draft-aged men update military documents after launch of online app
According to the newly implemented law, all military-aged men, with some exceptions, must update their military documents within 60 days from May 18 at public service centers and enlistment offices, or via the online application Rezerv+.
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