Why Round-Ups of Conscripts Began in Ukraine

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The joke about “dragged off the bus, and taken to the National Guard” becomes a reality. Just that the “dragging” is done from the dance floors of discos. In Ukraine round-ups of conscripts in night clubs began. During the week there was a second loud case. At first they caught evaders in Kiev, and now in Lvov.

Last weekend the police and military detained three dozen visitors of the capital’s Jugendhub nightclub and brought them to the police office and the military registration and enlistment office.

More than ten summonses were handed over

During the night of November 4th a similar round-up was organised in Lvov, and the popular among youth Kryva Lypa in the city center along with a range of entertainment facilities were chosen as the targets.

The military registration and enlistment office confirmed the special operation.

“Now there is an appeal, not everyone voluntary comes to the military registration and enlistment office, some need to be encouraged to do so. The National Police and Ministry of Defence has a database of evaders, and the verification of their documents means it’s possible to easily find them. On the night of November 4th in Kryva Lypa more than 10 summonses were handed over, and nobody was detained. The law doesn’t forbid such actions. If these conscripts don’t enter service, they face criminal charges,” said the head of the Western regional media center of the Ministry of Defence Aleksandr Poronyuk to “Strana”.

The press service of the Lvov police explained to “Strana” that the patrol service was sent to Kryva Lypa after a call from the military registration and enlistment office and the military prosecutor’s office for the defence of public order. “There weren’t any incidents,” said the press service.

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It is interesting that the head of the National Police Sergey Knyazev thus categorically denied the carrying out of a special operation by subordinates, and even called the information about the carried-out round-ups “a provocation by the enemy”.

“Unwise military commissars write that it seems with the help of the police conscription was carried out. In Lvov there was panic: police officers organise round-ups, take guys into the army, without allowing them to even drink a cup of coffee… If all seriousness, such statements are a hostile provocation. The police never interferes in the affairs of the Armed Forces. And such statements don’t correspond to reality,” stated Knyazev.

“The cops wanted to storm the night club”

Eyewitnesses say that the round-up was reminiscent of a detective thriller. At about midnight two entrances to a “thoroughfare” were blocked by law enforcement officers – so that nobody could escape.

“My friends and I left the club to smoke under the trees and we were shocked, when cops in bullet-proof vests and masks suddenly rushed into the alley,” said Bogdan Movchan, a student of the economics department of Lvov university who was subjected to verification, to “Strana”. “At first we thought that they are trying to catch some criminal, and we were afraid. But they started approaching guys, and to check their documents. Those who had student cards for regular education were released. And those who didn’t have cards or were stay-at-home students were handed a summons. The cops wanted to storm the night club, but the security guards didn’t let them. All of this is very unpleasant, I’m still shocked”.

As was stated by the Paradox night club, where a private party took place that night, the military and police officers tried to enter in order to verify documents. They were looking for evaders.

“They didn’t show permission for a search, and security simply didn’t allow them to come inside,” said the administration of the premises to us.

Among lawyers opinions about the legality of such round-ups differ.

“The actions of the military are illegal, it is easy to prove. Conscripts are called according to summonses, which must be handed to them at their residence, and not on the street. There is a certain procedure. Such round-ups give the military registration and enlistment offices a bad image and frighten off people from the army,” said Igor Stetsenko.

Other jurists are sure that there weren’t any violations.

“The guys weren’t detained and force wasn’t used, summonses were simply handed to them. The fact that it happened on the street isn’t forbidden under law,” considers the lawyer Vadim Pelekh.

“Catch them on the border – in Poland every second conscript hides away from the army”

The night round-up caused a storm of emotions among Lvov residents. And some support such methods of hunting for conscripts.

“They shouldn’t spend the money of parent-gastarbeiters in nightclubs and be idle, let them enter the army,” considers the pharmacist Galina Melekh.

“At last they came to this decision [to catch them on the street – ed], because some are in the army, and others have fun at night,” stated Oleg Voron.

Some advise to catch conscripts in neighboring countries, where many flee in order to avoid conscription and to not go to the anti-terrorist operation.

“Catch them on the border, here in Poland every second person evades,” said the Lvov resident Aleksandr Kasyan, who works near Warsaw.

Others are outraged.

“And when will there be round-ups of deputies and other officials who plunder the country? But a real one, and not an ostentatious one. And what is this State, where citizens are still obliged to serve [in the army – ed] at a time of high prices, small salaries, and a poor quality of life?” said Viktoriya Khomenko.

“And what is going on in the 21st century in a ‘democratic’ country? Firstly, it is a violation of a number of human rights; secondly, it at minimum reflects the desire to serve, because painting grass in a green color and the borders in a white one is also possible in civil life. Stage a round-up in the Verkhovna Rada, work according to lists of the children of politicians. Oh, sorry, I forgot, they study abroad, where such round-ups are a wildness! Form an adequate contract army, instead of herding people to serve as a flock,” considers Aleksandr Shazhko.

Some joke: apparently, soon conscripts will be caught in churches and at prayer services popular among Lvov residents.

“My neighbor asks me if people will be taken from religious processions to the army,” said Sofia Dubik ironically.

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