Russia & Former Soviet Union

Ukraine discovers widespread draft-dodging conspiracy

Police claim a scheme to issue false medical exemptions operated in Kiev and 11 other regions

Ukrainian police and security services search homes of suspected draft-dodgers for fraudulent medical exemptions, July 2023. ©  Telegram/Office of the Prosecutor-General of Ukraine

Ukrainian police and Security Service (SBU) said on Tuesday they had discovered a large-scale conspiracy in 11 regions and the capital to issue fraudulent medical exemption certificates to men seeking to avoid mobilization.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office announced that 100 offices and residences in Kiev, Kiev Region, Odessa, Transcarpathia, Poltava, Vinnitsa, Cherkasy, Chernigov, Lviv, Zhytomyr, and Ivano-Frankovsk had been searched as part of the investigation into the scheme.

Prosecutors claim that officials in regional recruitment centers teamed up with members of military-medical commissions to create “a scheme for issuing certificates declaring men unfit for military service due to their health” and had them removed from the draft register. 

The conspirators allegedly charged an average of $6,000 dollars for the “service,” after which their ‘clients’ did not even present for medical exams, based on the absence of any electronic medical records, the prosecutors claimed. The recipients then used these fraudulent medical exemptions to flee Ukraine.

During searches of doctors’ offices, recruitment centers and residences of suspected draft dodgers, the police seized “medical records, logs of registration of medical findings, patient certificates, [and] other medical and accounting documents.”

The entire conspiracy was allegedly “mediated by third parties,” who remained unnamed.

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Ukrainian national police and the SBU who are involved in the investigation have not made any arrests, but “notices of suspicion” have been issued to several individuals.

The government in Kiev has ordered several waves of conscription since the hostilities with Russia escalated in February 2022. In late June, recruitment centers in several regions stopped sending individual summons, issuing instead blanket notifications to all men of military age.

Ukraine does not publish official casualty figures for its military, but photos posted on social media in recent months have shown cemeteries across the country rapidly filling up amid a grinding offensive against prepared Russian positions in the south. 

During the month of July alone, the Ukrainian military lost almost 21,000 soldiers and 2,227 units of military equipment, 10 German-supplied Leopard tanks, 11 US-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and 50 self-propelled guns from several Western countries, according to a report by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Monday.


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