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Ukraine allows prisoners to join army to fight against Russia

Ukraine’s parliament has approved a bill allowing certain prisoners to join the armed forces amidst a critical shortage of military personnel and continued Russian advances on the battlefield.

This decision marks a reversal in Ukraine’s stance on the issue, as Kyiv had previously opposed such measures and criticized Moscow for using prisoners to bolster its forces.

The legislation must now be signed by the chairperson of parliament and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before it becomes law.

“The parliament has voted yes,” stated MP Olena Shuliak, head of Zelenskyy’s party, in a Facebook post. “The draft law enables certain categories of prisoners who wish to defend their country to join the Defence Forces.”

Participation in mobilization would be voluntary and limited to specific categories of prisoners. Those ineligible include individuals convicted of sexual violence, multiple homicides, serious corruption, and former high-ranking officials, according to Shuliak.

Prisoners with less than three years remaining on their sentences are eligible to apply. Those mobilized would be granted parole instead of a pardon.

The organization Protection for Prisoners of Ukraine, which advocated for allowing prisoners to fight, expressed disappointment with the adopted legislation.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s State Security Service revealed that it apprehended two Russian agents planning the assassination of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other high-ranking officials as a “gift” for Vladimir Putin on the occasion of his new term inauguration in the Kremlin on Tuesday.

According to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the two individuals, both colonels in Ukraine’s state guard service, were recruited by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and leaked classified information to Moscow.

Their mission, as outlined by the SBU on Telegram, involved identifying someone within the presidential guard who would take Zelenskyy hostage and subsequently assassinate him. The statement did not specify when the alleged plot was thwarted.

“The terrorist attack, intended as a gift to Putin for the inauguration, was a failure thanks to the Ukrainian security services,” said SBU chief Vasyl Maliuk, as reported by the agency on Telegram.

There was no immediate response from Moscow. Last month, the Kremlin declined to comment on the arrest in Poland of an individual accused of collaborating with Russian intelligence to plan an assassination attempt on Zelenskyy.

The SBU revealed that the spy group also aimed to “eliminate” Maliuk and Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the military intelligence agency. Budanov’s assassination was planned before Orthodox Easter Sunday on May 5.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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