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5 Oct, 2023 18:11

Ukraine planning punishment for draft dodgers who fled abroad – minister

Authorities are searching for ways to “justly” penalize citizens who left to avoid conscription, Igor Klimenko says
Ukraine planning punishment for draft dodgers who fled abroad – minister

Ukraine is aiming to punish draft dodgers who fled the country to evade military service amid the conflict with Russia, Interior Minister Igor Klimenko has said. 

The authorities must first decide on the appropriate penalty for those who avoided conscription, the minister told the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday. 

“Here a golden mean must be found. Don’t blame us for not letting anyone in, or letting everyone in, or this one will go to jail, or that one won’t go to jail,” Klimenko explained.

“The state must develop a common approach to this problem. Because this problem will become a social one in the future – the rejection by one part of the population of another one that fled the war.”

Draft dodgers will most likely be given administrative fines, the minister suggested, without elaborating on the potential size of the penalties. Anyone who used fake papers or illegally secured documents to allow them to leave Ukraine will face criminal prosecution, Klimenko warned.

In recent months, the Ukrainian authorities have reportedly been exploring the possibility of getting men of military age back who previously fled. In late August, a senior lawmaker from President Vladimir Zelensky’s ruling party, David Arakhamia, said Kiev could seek the extradition of draft dodgers from the EU.

“Our law enforcement officials can file extradition requests against such people in pretty much any country in the world except for Russia. What will happen to the people who did so? They will face prosecution… over bribery, document forgery, and mobilization dodging,” the lawmaker said. 

Multiple EU states, including Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, have already refused to round up draft dodgers and send them back to Ukraine. They have argued that the Ukrainians they have accommodated are treated as refugees, and should not be punished for draft evasion or desertion.