Poland Leads in Extradition of Ukrainian Draft Dodgers Amidst Bribery Scandal

Poland has emerged as a front-runner in the extradition of individuals who fled Ukraine to evade military conscription, a predicament that may soon engulf other European Union member states. Ukrainian authorities, responding to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s directive, are currently scrutinizing the authenticity of military service exemption documents issued after February 24, 2022. It has come to light that tens of thousands of conscription-age Ukrainian men allegedly secured these documents through substantial bribes, ranging from $3,000 to $15,000.

Davyd Arachamija, a lawmaker from Ukraine’s ruling Servants of the People party, recently announced that Ukrainian law enforcement authorities will actively seek the extradition of their citizens of conscription age who illicitly left Ukraine to evade mobilization.

“On the orders of President Volodymyr Zelensky, the authorities will now meticulously scrutinize the veracity of all decisions regarding the inability to perform military service, often referred to as ‘blue books,’ that were issued by military medical commissions after February 24, 2022,” as reported by Rzeczpospolita.

Reports from Kiev suggest that tens of thousands of conscription-age men managed to obtain counterfeit “blue books” in exchange for substantial bribes, typically ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 (equivalent to 66,750-335,000 Czech crowns).

Data from the Polish Border Guard headquarters reveals that between February 24, 2022, and August 31, 2022, approximately 2.87 million Ukrainians aged 18 to 60 crossed into Poland, with nearly 2.8 million leaving Polish territory afterward.

“Nearly 80,000 Ukrainian men of conscription age who arrived after February 24, 2022, have seemingly vanished. These Ukrainians potentially fall within the scope of mobilization in their homeland. The exact number of those who genuinely qualify for conscription remains uncertain,” the newspaper reported.

Kiev is now contemplating legal action against those who evaded mobilization by seeking refuge abroad through bribery.

“This matter holds immense significance for Ukraine since these men could have bolstered the ranks of our armed forces, thereby enhancing our defense and security,” stated Fedir Velinislavskyi of the parliamentary committee on national security, defense, and intelligence.

To repatriate these individuals, Ukraine must issue international arrest warrants for each of them. If any of these individuals are encountered, for example, during a routine road check, the national information system of the police will automatically flag them as persons sought by the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office. Subsequently, the decision on extradition will rest with the Polish courts, as explained by Mariusz Ciarka, spokesman for the Police of the Republic of Poland, in an interview with Rzeczpospolita.

The situation underscores the complexities faced by EU member states in dealing with the aftermath of Ukraine’s military conscription and the efforts to hold accountable those who sought to evade their national duty through bribery and flight. Poland’s proactive approach may set a precedent for other countries grappling with similar challenges in the near future.

Article by Prague Forum

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