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7 May, 2024 20:33

Ukrainians risk jail for filming mobilization

Disrupting the work of enlistment officers is a crime against the military, Khmelnitsky Region officials have warned
Ukrainians risk jail for filming mobilization

Anyone recording the work of recruiters is interfering with military matters and could be imprisoned for up to eight years, officials in one Ukrainian region have warned.

Kiev recently embarked on a new wave of mobilization to replenish battlefield losses, which Moscow has estimated at over 110,000 just this year. In western Ukraine’s Khmelnitsky Region,  draft evasion has apparently warranted a statement from local officials.

“Sharing information on social networks and messenger communities about the locations and movements of the Khmelnytsky Region recruiters as they deliver notices to citizens eligible for conscription leads to the disclosure of forms and methods,” the recruitment center’s press service posted on Facebook on Monday. 

Such activities are prosecutable under the law banning the “undermining of the authority of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” and obstructing official military business during martial law, the Khmelnitsky recruitment office added. Anyone convicted on these charges could be imprisoned for up to eight years, they said.

Many Ukrainians seeking to evade draft notices have long used group chats in apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram. The users would alert each other to the movements of recruiters and schedules of summons. Some of these groups had as many as 100,000 members, the BBC reported in August 2023.

Recent amendments to mobilization rules, enacted by President Vladimir Zelensky last month, have lowered the conscription age to 25 and automated registration and notices, among other things. In response, Ukrainians seeking to escape the draft have begun fleeing the country.

On Monday, the Ukrainian border service captured a man who tried to flee into Hungary dressed as a woman. Meanwhile, six men drowned while trying to swim across the Tisza River into Romania, according to local media. Four bodies were reportedly found on the Ukrainian side and two inside Romania. The Ukrainian border service acknowledged only one death, but said this was the 25th such incident over the past two years.

Ukrainian Border Service spokesman Andrey Demchenko said in a recent interview that the agency stops 120-150 people from leaving the country every day.

Russian Defense Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said last week that Ukraine lost more than 111,000 soldiers in 2024 alone. Last month, he estimated Ukraine’s losses since the start of the hostilities in February 2022 at nearly half a million troops.