Lawyers claim mil­i­tary bul­lies men with draft-dodg­ing charges

Kyiv Post - - News - BY ALYONA ZHUK [email protected]

The mil­i­tary is us­ing scare tac­tics to re­cruit men into the army by send­ing them letters stat­ing they are draft dodg­ing and have com­mit­ted a crime.

The men are re­ceiv­ing copies of letters ad­dressed to the lo­cal pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice and po­lice de­part­ments, ac­cord­ing to one of the letters ob­tained by the Kyiv Post.

Kyiv’s Des­nyan­sky Dis­trict Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sar has ad­mit­ted send­ing out the threat­en­ing letters that warn men they could face up to five years in jail for fail­ing to ap­pear for ser­vice.

Vi­taliy, a Kyiv res­i­dent, was shocked and scared when he re­ceived the cu­ri­ous let­ter.

It was sta­pled to a util­ity bill and said he was or­dered to at­tend a lo­cal re­cruit­ment of­fice at a given date – even though he’d never been sent an of­fi­cial draft no­tice, and no one from the lo­cal re­cruit­ment of­fice had ever con­tacted him.

He would not give his full name out of fear of re­ceiv­ing more pres­sure from mil­i­tary of­fi­cials.

Vi­taliy is not the only one who has been sent such letters.

They have been a hot topic on so­cial media and fo­rums, with users al­ready sar­cas­ti­cally dub­bing them “letters of hap­pi­ness.” Ac­tivists and lawyers say the doc­u­ments were drawn up in­cor­rectly and are in­tended to bully the re­cip­i­ents.

Although Vi­taliy wasn’t the ad­dressee of the let­ter, by ap­pear­ances, a copy of it was sent to him merely be­cause it con­cerns a le­gal case be­ing made against him.

In the cor­re­spon­dence, the mil­i­tary com­mis­sar asks pros­e­cu­tors and po­lice to open an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Vi­taliy, who “com­mit­ted a crime, as de­fined in Ar­ti­cle 336 of the Crim­i­nal Code of Ukraine: be­ing obliged to per­form mil­i­tary ser­vice, he is evad­ing it through in­ac­tion, and he failed to ap­pear at the times set by the re­cruit­ment of­fice with­out giv­ing a valid ex­cuse.”

The let­ter also says that Vi­taliy must be in­cluded on the “sin­gle register of cit­i­zens who are evad­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice.” The doc­u­ment ended with the date on which Vi­taliy should come to the re­cruit­ment of­fice.

Once the ini­tial shock re­ceded, Vi­taliy con­sulted a lawyer.

“The lawyer ex­am­ined the doc­u­ment, and came to the un­equiv­o­cal con­clu­sion that there were, and are, no valid rea­sons for such ac­cu­sa­tions to be made,” Vi­taliy told the Kyiv Post.

Ihor Godet­sky, another lawyer who has been con­sulted by dozens of men about sim­i­lar letters, agrees – un­der cur­rent Ukrainian leg­is­la­tion, not a sin­gle mil­i­tary com­mis­sar has the au­thor­ity to send out such doc­u­ments.

“The doc­u­ment that reg­u­lates the ac­tions of the mil­i­tary is the Rule on the Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sariat, and it doesn’t con­tain a sin­gle word about the mil­i­tary com­mis­sar hav­ing the right to sign any­thing,” Godet­sky told the Kyiv Post. He said that the res­o­lu­tions with in­struc­tions for re­cruit­ment of­fices are drawn up by the Cab­i­net of Min­is­ters.

The gov­ern­ment’s con­scrip­tion rules stip­u­late that the mil­i­tary must gather more than 10 doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing the coun­ter­foil of a signed draft no­tice, be­fore it can file a po­lice com­plaint, Godet­sky said.

He also noted that since Ukraine is un­der­go­ing only par­tial troop mo­bi­liza­tion, the ar­ti­cle of the crim­i­nal code men­tioned does not ap­ply in this case.

Ac­cord­ing to Godet­sky, there is another sen­tence in the let­ter that causes him con­cern: “The phrase ‘he has com­mit­ted a crime’ means that the com­mis­sar ac­cused (of a crime) a man who hasn’t been con­victed yet, and who maybe hasn’t even re­ceived a draft no­tice yet.”

What makes the let­ter even less ac­cu­rate is that there is no such thing as a “sin­gle register of cit­i­zens who are evad­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice,” Godet­sky added.

“I rec­om­mend that the man to go straight to the court with this let­ter,” he told the Kyiv Post.

Mykola Popel­sky from the Gen­eral Staff of the Ground Forces of Ukraine, to which all the re­cruit­ment of­fices are sub­or­di­nate, con­firmed that mil­i­tary com­mis­sars in Kyiv are send­ing out such letters.

He also ad­mit­ted that the form of the let­ter was not set by any law.

The mil­i­tary com­mis­sar should do what­ever it takes "to con­script the es­tab­lished amount of men li­able for mil­i­tary ser­vice,” he told the Kyiv Post.

Popel­sky noted that the letters were ad­dressed first to the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fices and po­lice de­part­ments so that they can open a case against the men­tioned per­son.

Yet pros­e­cu­tors and the po­lice say they haven’t re­ceived the letters.

The press ser­vice of the Kyiv pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice told the Kyiv Post their lo­cal de­part­ments have not re­ceived any such letters, and have not even heard of them.

Olek­sandr Gomon, act­ing head of the po­lice depart­ment in Des­nyan­sky dis­trict, where Vi­taliy lives, also told the Kyiv Post that his depart­ment hasn’t re­ceived any of these letters.

Ac­cord­ing to Godet­sky, the com­mis­sar who is send­ing out these letters is tak­ing ad­van­tage of “a sec­tion of the un­e­d­u­cated pop­u­la­tion, bring­ing to the front line not those who want to serve and who are ready for mod­ern work with mod­ern equip­ment, but those who are scared, and who have no idea what the law means.”

A doc­tor from the med­i­cal board in one of the mil­i­tary re­cruit­ment of­fices in Za­por­izhyzhya tests a man’s eye­sight on March 25. (UNIAN)

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