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Parliament allows Zelensky to call reservists into the army at his discretion. What's wrong here?

Author : Iryna Shostak

Source : 112 Ukraine

The Verkhovna Rada allowed President Volodymyr Zelensky to call reservists into the Armed Forces without mobilization. The bill, which lay in parliament for almost a year and was mercilessly criticized by lawyers and even by the Main Scientific and Expert Directorate of the Verkhovna Rada, was adopted with minor amendments. But this did not make it less resonant - as the lawyers note, in its new edition, a number of critical moments were also not taken into account
21:11, 5 April 2021

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The Main Scientific and Expert Directorate of the Verkhovna Rada emphasizes that the rule on repeated conscription for military service without announcing the mobilization of persons who have already served the appropriate terms is contrary to the Constitution.

The lack of clear wording and legal grounds for such a conscription can negatively affect the principles of social justice, the rights and freedoms of reservists.

After all, in fact, Zelensky gets the right to pull any reservist out of ordinary life and send them to the troops. In fact, such a possibility of the commander-in-chief is spelled out in the Constitution even today. It's about mobilization. Now you can bypass it. If the decree on mobilization is to be approved by the Verkhovna Rada, then the decree on the urgent appeal can be signed by the president alone.

In addition, the processing of data of reservists by third parties and the entry of their personal data into different registers raises concern. According to the bill, the statements that were collected by authorized government agencies for certain legitimate purposes will be freely processed by other government agencies for completely different purposes.

Such norms of the draft law contradict the requirements of the Constitution of Ukraine, do not comply with international acts, and also do not take into account the practice of the European Court of Human Rights. It is noteworthy that the experts of the Main Legal Department of Ukraine drew attention to this even before the second hearing of the draft law. But it is obvious that such statements did not seem significant to the MPs.

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Also here we see the complete absence of a carrot, but there is a tangible whip.

According to the bill, evading military service will be punished with fines. The most severe punishment will await those who, as a reservist, decide to evade conscription for mobilization or during a special period. They are proposed to be punished with imprisonment for a term of three to five years.

With "crime and punishment" sorted out, what about bonuses for reservists? The new initiative promises to help them find employment and provide them with first job for at least two years. In addition, the preservation of the workplace, position and average earnings for reservist workers is guaranteed. But, according to lawyers, given the problem of shadow employment and a number of other factors, reservists should not rely on guarantees to preserve their jobs, positions and earnings - people are simply forced to risk their jobs.

"Everything that is introduced by this law is additional measures of influence, coercion (criminal liability, heavy fines for evasion). But there are no additional real measures to popularize - the guarantees are ephemeral," says lawyer Rostislav Kravets.

But most of all there are worries about the risk of Ukraine returning to the practice of "forced conscription", which is facilitated by the main message of the bill - the repeated appeal of reservists, without announcing mobilization in a special period. It is noteworthy that Zelensky can call on former military personnel in the near future - since 2014, the "special period" in Ukraine has not been canceled. Against this background, the provision on the possibility of termination of the contract by the reservist after the end of the "special period" seems ephemeral.

Also, the bill de facto "kills contract military service" - upon completion of the contract, any soldier fit for military service is automatically enrolled in the operational reserve of the first stage and can potentially be called up an unlimited number of times. This state of affairs will scare people away from the contract in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. What can we say about the conscripts? The fact is that, since the norms of the draft law relate specifically to those who have served, a potential conscript, who is already not happy with the draft, has the motivation to serve decreased to zero. Why would he go to serve in the army today, if then, years later, he risks becoming part of the list of reservists and being called up again?

What do we end up with? On the one hand, today we really cannot afford a fully contract army, as Zelensky promised. To do this, the country's military budget will need to be inflated by about two times. This means that less money will be spent on social benefits. This is especially difficult for a country in post-quarantine depression in the face of the possibility of coronavirus. However, if there was no contract army, the state could at least not violate the Constitution and not limit the basic rights of its own citizens. Surely, it would be possible to increase the interest of "people of arms" in military service with the help of a carrot, not a stick.

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