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Ukrainian Men Avoiding the Army at All Costs

Whether hiding at home, fleeing abroad, or paying a bribe, Ukrainians desperate to escape from the army

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The article originally appeared at Handelsblatt. Translated for RI by Kristina Aleshnikova

 

Bad news – Call up orders: In Kiev alone 95% of able-bodied men are evading conscription. Companies are making false statements in order to protect their employees. Some men go even further.

Dimitri can breathe easy. The young man from the eastern Ukrainian industrial city of Dnipropetrovsk absconded to Turin in Italy via Kiev  – “escaped” as he called it. “I hope I can study at a university in Italy sometime this year” he said in a Skype conversation. What he is doing right now is not clear. A relative had invited him to Italy.

Dmitri is 22 years old and had been hiding in Kiev for several months since he received a conscription notice in Autumn 2014. “I don’t want to go into the army” he said back then. Originally he wanted to enroll in one of the many universities in Kiev to escape the army, “but then I had the opportunity to go to the real Europe” he said. In Ukraine 60,000 soldiers are supposed to be trained over the next five months. But in Kiev alone, 95% of men fit for military service are evading the draft.

It is an open secret that those who can are buying themselves free of military service. Just a few weeks ago in the western Ukrainian town of Czernowitz media attention focused on a doctor who was arrested for issuing Certificates of Unsuitability for Military Service for which he was pocketing up to 3,500 Euros per signature.


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