Ukraine to grant parole to prisoners who join its army to fight against Russia

May 9th, 2024


Ukraine to grant parole to prisoners who join its army to fight against Russia

Ukraine’s parliament has passed a bill that would enable some prisoners to fight in the armed forces as the military faces a critical personnel shortage and Russian forces continue to advance on the battlefield.

The move marks a U-turn in Ukraine’s approach to the matter. Kyiv had long opposed the measure and had repeatedly criticised Moscow for mobilising prisoners to fill its army ranks.

The legislation would need to be signed by the chairperson of parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before becoming law.

“The parliament has voted yes,” MP Olena Shuliak, head of Zelenskyy’s party, said in a Facebook post.

“The draft law opens the possibility for certain categories of prisoners who expressed a desire to defend their country to join the Defence Forces,” she said.

Mobilisation would be voluntary and open only to certain categories of prisoners, she said. Only prisoners with under three years left to serve on their sentence may apply, she said. Any prisoners who are mobilised would be granted parole rather than a pardon.


Among those not eligible to serve include those found guilty of sexual violence, killing two or more people, serious corruption and former high-ranking officials, Shuliak said.


Russia has recruited prisoners to serve on the front lines since the first days of its invasion in February 2022, initially offering presidential pardons for six months of service.


Ukraine recently toughened measures against military service draft dodgers and lowered the age at which men can be drafted from 27 to 25.