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Thousands of Ukrainian prisoners apply to join military

The bill allowing inmates to be mobilized was signed by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on May 17

MOSCOW, May 21. /TASS/. About 3,000 inmates in Ukraine have applied to join the Ukrainian armed forces in exchange for a chance at early parole, Yelena Vysotskaya, Ukraine’s deputy justice minister, said.

"Over three thousand people [have applied]. This is what we forecasted when this law was passed," she said during a national telethon. She reiterated that during preliminary surveys about 4,500 inmates were amenable to being mobilized to the Ukrainian army if it meant getting out of prison early.

The official added that not all those who applied would be able to join the military: some will be ineligible due to the crimes that they have been sentenced for while others may not pass the mandatory physical.

The bill allowing inmates to be mobilized was signed by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on May 17. All inmates are eligible except those who committed crimes against national security, murderers, rapists, pedophiles, and those guilty of causing a deadly car accident while driving under influence.

Mobilization in Ukraine

General mobilization was announced in Ukraine in February 2022 and has been extended several times since then, with the authorities doing everything possible so that draft age men cannot evade military service. Military recruiters regularly conduct raids and use coercion and force, and even those unfit for military service end up being called up. Videos regularly appear on social media showing military officers trying to forcefully hand out call-up orders in the streets, in public transport, or in gyms, and many Ukrainian men, according to media reports, literally shun leaving their homes for months on end to avoid encounters with recruiters. Reports periodically emerge of men being beaten up at recruitment centers. On May 18, a bill on toughening mobilization rules came into effect which will allow to recruit additional hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.