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Over 100 draft dodgers try to flee Ukraine daily – official

Most of the fugitives are caught by on-duty officers, the head of a Border Service department has said

Over 100 Ukrainians attempt to flee the country every day by various routes in an effort to escape mobilization, a senior Border Service official has said, admitting that the real number could be even higher.  

In an interview with the news agency Unian on Saturday, Igor Matviychuk, who heads the Border Service’s Control Department, said that this figure includes both those who try to leave Ukraine by illegally making their way through checkpoints and those who seek to cross through poorly guarded terrain in the wilderness.  

Matviychuk also noted that the statistics include either those detained by Ukrainian patrols and officials, or those reported by foreign authorities. He stated that most draft dodgers are being caught, but that this offense is punishable only by a fine. However, Matviychuk added that those who mastermind schemes to help Ukrainian men illegally leave the country could face criminal charges.  

The official’s comments come as Ukrainian journalist Vitaly Glagola reported that the Ukrainian authorities on Friday detained an organized group of as many as 47 men attempting to flee the country for Moldova in Odessa Region in what appears to be the largest single arrest of draft evaders since the start of the conflict.  

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FILE PHOTO. US Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).
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Ukraine announced a general mobilization shortly after the hostilities with Russia began, barring most categories of men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country. However, this effort has been marred by widespread graft and draft-dodging. More recently, faced with mounting battlefield losses, Kiev passed a law that lowered the draft age from 27 to 25 and another that significantly tightened mobilization rules.  

At the same time, attempts to escape mobilization have proven fatal in some cases. Ukraine’s Border Service said earlier this month that more than 45 Ukrainian men had died in rough terrain while fleeing the country, adding that a significant portion of them drowned in the Tisza River, which flows through southwestern Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Serbia. 

The agency also admitted last week that its operatives had resorted to firing shots to stop draft dodgers from fleeing the country.

June 23, 2024 at 09:33PM

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