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4 Mar, 2024 09:57

Ukrainian minister wants prisoners drafted

Officials convicted for corruption should be sent to the frontlines as should many others, Denis Malyuska has argued
Ukrainian minister wants prisoners drafted

Ukraine should not hesitate to draft convicted criminals into military service, Justice Minister Denis Malyuska believes. Corrupt felons may be “greedy patriots” who will make fine soldiers, he told local media, and even violent inmates may have their use.

The senior official has been in office since 2019 and is a vocal proponent of sweeping reforms, including removing a ban on ex-convicts joining the military and subjecting them to mandatory mobilization. Most of the people serving prison terms should be eligible too, according to Malyuska.

The minister told RBC-Ukraine that his personal view is too ‘radical’. Malyuska argued that “in the conditions of a difficult war, the military, military intelligence, should pick whoever they want” from behind bars. Some commanders have shown interest in such people because “in short, those who can kill are of value in certain special operations.”

However, the ministry’s official stance is to call for milder changes, which Ukrainian MPs would conceivably approve, Malyuska said. One category of criminals that can be sent to the frontline with no second thought, according to him, are those found guilty of corruption. He rejected the notion that graft made a person unpatriotic and thus a dubious defender of Ukraine.

“Often they are patriotic, but their patriotism is quite particular, and they are greedy. Well, not just greedy, let’s be frank. Our nation has been cultivating corruption for decades,” he reasoned. “It remains widespread. So going ‘wow, he is corrupt’ [is hypocritical].”

A poorly executed reform can produce unwanted outcomes, particularly since it would allow inmates to reduce their sentences by serving in the military, Malyuska acknowledged.

“We certainly don’t want some corrupt top official caught on bribes worth millions to end up encircled in the Transcarpatia,” he said, referring to a far western part of Ukraine bordering Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

However, the current system is prone to abuse too, he added. Some draft dodgers commit petty crimes to become ineligible, the minister said.

Draft dodging, particularly by men fleeing from Ukraine illegally, has been a major issue. Some 20,000 people were smuggled across the border as of the end of August 2023, according to BBC calculations, and dozens of attempted crossings reportedly happen daily.

Last year, Kiev’s troops attempted a major push against Russia, but failed to secure significant territory. Ukrainian losses since the hostilities broke out in February 2022 have surpassed 444,000, according to the Russian Defense Ministry estimates released last month.

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