Orthodox Christian not allowed to refuse military service in Ukraine


Eastern Europe


Photo EPA, Oleksandr Ratushniak

Some Ukrainians are allowed to skip mandatory military service for religious reasons. However, Orthodox Christians cannot do so.

Ukraine has been under martial law since February. But before that time, men between 18 and 60 years old were not allowed to leave the country because of the conscription Ukrainian President Zelensky ordered after Russia declared the Donetsk and Luhansk regions independent. That is reported by PRO.

However, some Ukrainian men do not want to join the army and take up arms. Some refuse to do so for religious reasons. There are no exact numbers of how many people object to conscription, Rudi Friedrich says in an interview with NDR Info. Friedrich is the managing director of the international work for conscientious objectors and deserters Connection Ev. About 3000 of them fled to Moldova for that reason, Friedrich estimates.

The Ukrainian government does offer the possibility of opting out of conscription for moral reasons. Still, the people who are allowed to do so are scarce. Only certain religious groups can request an exemption, PRO writes. Examples of these denominations are the Reformed Adventists, Evangelical Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christians of charismatic churches.

Only people who belong to a religious group whose doctrine prohibits using weapons have the right to skip out, Antje Himmelreich writes. She is a research associate for Russian and Ukrainian Law. Therefore, Eastern Orthodoxy is not included in this list. That means that about 75 per cent of the Ukrainian population cannot refuse military service for religious reasons.

Anyone who refuses to join the army without being allowed to do so faces a sentence of several years, Friedrich of the International work for conscientious objectors and deserters says.



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