Zelensky approves mobilization of convicts — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union


Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky ratified a new law on Friday which would allow some prisoners to be paroled if they agree to enlist in the country’s military, according to documents published on the official website of the country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

The bill was first submitted to the legislature in March this year as part of Ukraine’s efforts to replenish its ranks amid a series of setbacks in its conflict with Russia.

The new legislation permits Ukrainian inmates to voluntarily enlist on a contractual basis and serve for as long as the country remains under martial law. The law only applies to convicts who have no more than three years left of their original prison sentence. It does not extend to people who have been convicted of premeditated murder, rape, drug trafficking and production, crimes against national security or corruption. However, the law allows military service for those convicted of involuntary manslaughter, with the exception of cases where the prisoner committed the crime while intoxicated.

Ukrainian Justice Minister Denis Maliuska said earlier that the mobilized convicts will serve in special units, and could perform tasks not related to actual combat or the handling weapons, such as building infrastructure and other fieldwork. He also noted that the new law could help Kiev bolster its number of troops by as many as 20,000.

An April survey conducted by the ministry showed that some 4,500 Ukrainian convicts had already expressed a desire to serve in the army in exchange for parole, Olena Vysotska, Maliuska’s deputy, told Glavkom news outlet this week.

The new move is part of a broader initiative by Kiev to address critical shortages of manpower on the front line. Last month, Zelensky signed a new mobilization law which lowered the conscription age from 27 to 25, expanded the powers of enlistment officers and introduced penalties for draft dodgers, including fines of up to 25,000 hryvnias ($640).

The government in Kiev previously insisted that only 31,000 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed in the conflict since it began in February 2022. However, earlier this month, then Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that Ukrainian military casualties this year alone have amounted to more than 111,000 soldiers.

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