From 10 to 20 thousand men of conscript age, who are currently convicted and in prison, as well as men with criminal records, could be mobilized to the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), Minister of Justice Denys Maliuska said in an interview with BBC Ukraine.

Commenting on the law which allows mobilization of convicts, Maliuska said, “I think ten thousand possibly would be involved [and sent into the armed forces – ed.], maybe a little bit more.”

Maliuska said that if current prisoners were counted together with men who had prior criminal records, the number would rise to 20,000.

“Yes, ten to twenty thousand. Not more, for sure. But again, the question is in approaches. I say the numbers are absolutely impossible to calculate, because it depends on the scenario. The number will be different,” he said.

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The minister said the number of such citizens drafted into the military would largely depend on how the military medical commissions will work in this context. Maliuska added that he himself does not fully understand this approach.

“We already have this experience, when prisoners passed these medical commissions. [With this approach] they choose the men with ideal health. At least they used that approach for prisoners [previously],” he said, adding that “the approach has now changed. Now the AFU is more set up with fewer barriers for mobilization.”

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Mobilization of convicts - what is known

On May 8, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s national legislature, adopted a law which allows mobilization of convicts.

For the duration of the mobilization action and with martial law in effect, this legislation allows prisoners to be released on parole for military contract service.

Convicted prisoners could join the AFU only of their own free will and with court consent.

They will be able to write statement to the penitential institution, undergo a medical examination in prison and only then proceed to the center of recruitment and social support (TCC). Mobilization will be exclusively for those prisoners who have sufficient level of physical preparation and are mentally healthy.

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Kyiv Post researched the details of prisoner mobilization and asked the opinion of military professionals and other specialists. Those Kyiv Post interviewed believe that due to the strict provisions of the new law, no more than 10-20 thousand prisoners and former convicts will be mobilized.

In comparison, the number Russia mobilized was estimated to be 100,000 for the Wagner PMC alone.

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