Outrage as young men grabbed off the street in Kharkiv for military service
There have been a worrying number of cases recently where young men of conscription age were effectively pulled off the street and taken to military recruitment offices. While the regional military commissar claims that all is in order, representatives of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group are adamant that this is in breach of the Constitution and can be viewed as abduction.
Around 40 parents of conscripts are reported to have picketed the regional military recruitment office on June 24, and since. They complain that their sons were grabbed in the metro, on the street or in public places and taken to the military recruitment office where they are being held, without being allowed to see either their parents or lawyers.
Yana Smelyanska from the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, for example, is trying to help a mother from Alchevsk in the Luhansk oblast. Her son has finished technical college and had arrived, together with his mother, in Kharkiv to take an exam when he was taken away by plain-clothed men. They had to scour all police stations and recruitment officers to find out where the young man is being held. And held without any justification since he is registered in Luhansk, and cannot be called up in the Kharkiv oblast.
Yury Kalhushkin, Deputy Regional Commissar asserts that they are behaving in accordance with the law on military service. This states that young men of conscription age must themselves appear at the military recruitment office within 10 days of the President’s decree coming into force, which means April 1. He also claims that only those who live too far away are presently being held at the collection point.
Natalya Okhotnikova, from KHPG, is scathing in her response. She says that in the cases before KHPG, there is no evidence that the young men tried to avoid military service. There is effectively confirmation of this in the reports that the young men are only handed summonses in the recruitment office before being sent for a medical. Okhotnikova and other human rights activists consider this all to be a violation of the young men’s constitutional rights and tantamount to abduction.