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12 Aug, 2023 17:11

Ukrainians paying up to $10,000 to escape draft – FT

Thousands of Ukrainians have managed to dodge conscription thanks to various schemes in a corrupt system, the newspaper reports
Ukrainians paying up to $10,000 to escape draft – FT

Thousands of Ukrainian men have paid large sums in bribes to avoid getting drafted during the ongoing conflict between Kiev and Moscow, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

The news comes as Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky launched a massive military purge, sacking all of the regional military conscription officials and citing the multiple corruption scandals rocking the country. The recruitment officials are set to be replaced by combat veterans, according to Kiev’s plan.

Over the course of the ongoing conflict, thousands of Ukrainians have managed to escape the draft through various schemes in a culture of corruption. Kiev banned men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country when it first introduced martial law in February 2022, but the move only fueled more corrupt practices. One of the most popular options was simply buying medical exemption papers for some $6,000 on average, the FT reported, citing the findings of a probe into corruption by Ukrainian authorities.

Thousands of Ukrainian men have also attempted to leave the country illegally, with some 13,600 caught near border crossings and another 6,100 apprehended at checkpoints with fake papers, the FT noted, citing the latest official figures.

The head of the Odessa regional recruitment center Evgeny Borisov, who was arrested last month, turned out to be one of the most ‘prolific’ officials involved in draft-dodging rackets. The official is now suspected of bagging more than $5 million in bribes, charging from $2,000 to $10,000 per person for various ‘options’ to escape the draft. Borisov is believed to have been using the ill-gotten money to fund a posh lifestyle, with his family procuring a €4.2-million ($4.6-mn) villa in Spain last December, as well as other luxury assets, according to Ukrainian investigators.

Apart from the ongoing corruption scandals, the Ukrainian draft effort has also been marred by the violent actions of conscription officials. Numerous disturbing videos highlighting certain Ukrainian draft techniques emerged online in recent months, as Kiev struggled to compensate for its reported heavy battlefield losses.

Multiple videos show conscription officers chasing random men in the streets to give them a draft notice, violently detaining and even beating up the would-be soldiers. Many of these conscripts were reportedly killed on the frontline just days after getting ‘drafted’ in such a fashion.