Home News Ukrainian parliament passes bill allowing some prisoners to enlist in army

Ukrainian parliament passes bill allowing some prisoners to enlist in army


Ukraine’s parliament on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow some criminals to serve in the army in exchange for the possibility of parole at the end of their service, a move aimed at replenishing depleted ranks after more than two years of war.

The bill still must be signed into law by President Volodymyr Zelensky. It’s unclear whether he will do so, given the sensitivity of the matter.

The policy echoes Russia’s approach. committed tens of thousands of crimes war, allowing it to gain the upper hand in bloody attacks through numerical superiority. While Russia has conscripted a wide variety of prisoners, the Ukrainian bill stipulates that those convicted of premeditated murder, rape or other serious crimes will not be eligible – although some lawmakers have said involuntary negligence could be considered Conviction for murder.

Olina Shulyak, leader of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, said decisions on mobilizing and paroling prisoners would be made by the courts and would require prisoners’ willingness to join the army.

“The only way to survive a total war against an enemy with greater resources is to integrate all forces,” Ms. Shulyak wrote in one post on social media. “This draft law is about our struggle and preserving Ukraine’s statehood.”

Prisoners serving in the military will be assigned to special forces during martial law, meaning they will not be demobilized until the end of the war. Ms. Shulyak also told ukraine news media Only inmates with less than three years remaining on their sentences are eligible.

The bill is the latest in a series of recent efforts, including one signed into law last month that provides Lower the draft eligibility age from 27 to 25 — Actions taken by the Ukrainian government to bolster its exhausted and reduced military.

Zelensky said in February that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since Russia began its full-scale invasion more than two years ago.The figure is far lower than estimates by U.S. officials, who said last summer Nearly 70,000 Ukrainians killed.

As the war drags on, Ukraine is working to recruit or conscript more people into its military.Critics say the official mobilization system is mired in Soviet-style bureaucracy corruptionCases of military service evaders have doubled in recent months. General Yuri Sodor, commander of the Eastern Forces, told parliament last month In some areas of the front, Russians outnumbered Ukrainians more than seven to one.

Several lawmakers said the bill passed Wednesday was intended to help address troop shortages.David Arakhamia, the parliamentary leader of Zelensky’s party, reportedly said that could involve mobilizing 15,000 to 20,000 prisoners ukraine news media.

MPs voted overwhelmingly in favor: 279 voted in favor, 11 abstained and none voted against.

“We need people working in the trenches,” Oleksiy Honcharenko, a lawmaker from the opposition European Solidarity party, said in a telephone interview after the vote. “Why should businessmen and artists fight, rather than thieves and petty criminals?”

The Soviet Union and Germany also conscripted prisoners during World War II, said Thibaut Foye, deputy director of the French Institute for Strategic and Defense Studies.

“This was a traditional wartime practice whether it was in a major war or the Civil War or the Revolutionary War,” Foye said. “However, these are often temporary measures and actions taken in times of manpower shortages.”

But the decision to allow prisoners to serve in Ukraine’s military is likely to be controversial. Oleksandr Musiienko, director of the Kiev Center for Military Legal Studies, said Mr Zelensky had delayed signing sensitive bills over the past few months, such as one to lower the conscription age, but that he might not be willing to support it this bill.

“There is still a lot of discussion that needs to happen before this bill is signed into law,” Mr. Musyenko said.

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