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Over third of draftees in southern Ukraine's Odessa refuse to serve in army

More than 2,500 people evaded military service in Ukraine's Odessa region

ODESSA, February 2. /TASS/. More than a third of Odessa draftees have refused to serve in the Ukrainian army, a Ukrainian military official said.

About 6,000 people were conscripted into the ranks of the armed forces, the national guards and the border guard service during three waves of mobilization, while more than 2,500 evaded service. About 900 cases of evasion were referred to law enforcement authorities, deputy regional military commissar Valery Ishchenko told a regional council meeting.

Protest against mobilization is growing in the Odessa region. Last Sunday, protesters hung a 15-meter banner "It is not my War. Say Stop to Mobilization" over the entrance to the marine station near the known Potemkin Stairs in Odessa.

Protests with threats addressed to military authorities and demonstrative burning of summons have taken place in many districts in the southern Ukrainian region in the past few days.

About 200 protesters blocked a road in the village of Vinogradovka and prevented military and police officials from entering.

Women at a rally in the district center of Tarutino, in a statement addressed to authorities, demanded to stop the war. Thousands participated in anti-war protests in the villages of Rovnoye and Nadrechnoye. Residents in the village of Limanskoye were ready to beat military officials who intended to present summons to them. After the incident, police provided guards armed with submachine guns to accompany a local commissar, but they failed to prevent protesters from taking summons from him and demonstratively burning the papers.

Most of protests against the new wave of mobilization have taken place in the southern areas populated by Bulgars and Moldovans. People in the Ukrainian-populated north also protest. Some of them have called for blocking roads, the Odessa Internet portal Dumskaya wrote on Monday. It said summons to come to recruitment offices were sent to almost all men. Even bereaved relatives of Odessa resident Gennady Kushnaryov, who died in the fire in the House of Trade Unions burned by radical nationalists in Odessa in May last year, have also received a summons.

Swindlers use the situation. Introducing themselves as military officers, they call parents of draftees, saying their son was mobilized and would be sent to the war. They ask to transfer money to free the draftee. "Many parents are shocked and do not call their sons to check the information and give money to the swindlers," the Odessa Trassa E-95 newspaper wrote.

The General Staff and the regional military commissariat are aware of the situation, Defence Ministry officials, Yuri Dobrov, said.

It is the fourth and largest mobilization in a year. The military plan to mobilize 4,000 people, including 600 reserve officers, in the Odessa region alone. It is comparable to the previous three mobilization waves, when about 5,000 were conscripted.

The regional military commissariat said 47 Odessa residents had died in fighting in Donbass, and more than 2,000 seriously wounded soldiers and officers were taken to a military hospital in the southern region.