Ukraine orders release of first prisoners for military service

May 23, 2024
A man walks past Ukrainian flags at a memorial commemorating fallen servicemen who fought against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Khreshchatyk Street in Kyiv, Ukraine, April 2, 2024. — Reuters

KYIV, Ukraine: Ukraine has started releasing the first prisoners to serve in its armed forces under a new scheme offering parole to convicts prepared to fight, a regional court said on Wednesday.


Kyiv said more than 3,000 inmates had applied to join the military since a law paving the way for their recruitment was passed earlier this month.

The move comes with Kyiv struggling for troops on the front lines, and echoes a similar approach in Russia, where tens of thousands of prisoners have been sent to Ukraine on the promise of amnesty since Moscow invaded in February 2022.

A court in the western city of Khmelnytsky said it had ruled on Tuesday that two men, one born in 2000 and the other in 1981, both convicted of theft, could be released on parole to join the country´s National Guard.

“The court granted their petitions and ordered the Khmelnytsky Detention Centre to release the men from their sentences on parole for contracted military service immediately,” it said in a statement published Wednesday. “Each of the men is fit for military service on health grounds, has passed a professional and psychological selection, and has a sufficient level of physical fitness,” the court added.