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Ukraine's Parliament Passes a Bill Letting Convicts Join the Army
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By Anthony Haddad
Published 1 week ago on
May 9, 2024

Ukraine's Parliament passed a bill allowing certain convicts to serve in the military for a chance at parole. (Shutterstock)

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Ukraine’s Parliament passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow certain convicts to serve in the military in exchange for the chance of parole after their service, aiming to bolster the army’s ranks after years of conflict. This practice is currently used in Russia, which has drafted thousands of inmates.

“The only way to survive in an all-out war against an enemy with more resources is to consolidate all forces,” said Olena Shulyak, leader of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party.

Bill Waiting on Zelensky

The bill awaits Zelensky’s signature, and its fate is uncertain given the sensitivity of the issue.

However, the Ukrainian bill excludes convicts of serious crimes like premeditated murder or rape, though some lawmakers suggested those convicted of involuntary manslaughter might be considered.

The decision to mobilize and parole a prisoner for military service would be determined by a court, requiring the prisoner’s consent to join the army. Those serving would be part of special units during martial law and would not be demobilized until the war ends.

This bill joins other recent efforts by Ukraine’s government to strengthen its military, such as lowering the draft age.

Critics argue that Ukraine’s mobilization system is hindered by bureaucracy and corruption, leading to draft dodging.

Large Manpower Imbalance

Ukrainian General Yurii Sodol highlighted the severe manpower imbalance in certain areas of conflict. The bill’s passage could see 15,000 to 20,000 prisoners mobilized, according to David Arakhamia, head of Zelensky’s party in Parliament.

This move recalls wartime practices such as those in World War II, where prisoners were drafted into armies during periods of manpower shortages.

However, the decision is likely to spark debate and may face delays in being signed into law, reflecting the complex discussions around military strategies and ethics.

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Anthony Haddad,
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Anthony W. Haddad, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with his undergraduate degree and has an MBA at Fresno State, is the Swiss Army knife of GV Wire. He writes stories, manages social media, and represents the organization on the ground.

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