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Ukraine’s ruling party may lack votes for revised mobilization bill

The government's new draft law on mobilization has caused a mixed reaction from MPs
The government's new draft law on mobilization has caused a mixed reaction from MPs

The government has removed several controversial provisions from a draft law on mobilization, but the number of MPs willing to support the document has not increased among members of the ruling Servant of the People parliamentary party. Therefore, they will have to attract votes from other factions, while the European Solidarity and Batkivshchyna parties have already declared their opposition to the bill.

The government submitted the revised mobilization bill to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, on Jan. 30. A few weeks ago, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said the department had prepared a new version of the document considering the proposals of the General Staff, government officials, and the parliamentary Defense Committee. In particular, the new version excludes some punitive measures for eligible citizens evading the draft.

Nevertheless, the freezing of bank accounts and electronic wallets was left in the updated version. In addition, the draft age for men is lowered from 27 to 25 years. Demobilization terms are also established for soldiers whose continuous service has exceeded 36 months. However, this demobilization must be approved by the military. The new document also provides for universal inclusion of all military-age male Ukrainian citizens into an electronic military register.

Read also: Ukraine’s Defense Ministry comments on terms of service and demobilization in new mobilization bill

Once the bill is passed, conscripts must clarify their registration data online or in-person within 60 days. A conscription notice can be sent directly via the electronic register. In addition, annual conscription service is abolished and replaced with five months of basic military training.

Talks about the need to pass new mobilization rules gained publicity after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the General Staff considers it necessary to call up from 450,000 to 500,000 people for military service.

NV Business examines whether members of the ruling party are ready to pass the bill in its current form and which other MPs they might need to seek support from.

David Arakhamia, leader of the Servant of the People faction, said the Verkhovna Rada would hold a meeting on Feb. 6 to vote in the first reading for the bill, followed by another reading of the final version of the document a week later.

Instead, lively debates are underway in the party regarding the revised mobilization bill, several sources said. Even under more lenient regulations, most lawmakers from the Servant of the People faction are not ready to vote for the document as proposed by the government, a source said.

It’s quite difficult to count the number of those who are currently against the document as there are so many of them. First, the MPs are not happy with several proposed restrictions, in particular who and how will determine which disabilities would grant exemption from military service.

Read also: Ukrainian soldiers on fatigue and need for mobilization

“Some oppose the grafted-on deferment for civil servants and police officers, others speak out against the need [for citizens] to always carry a military ID,” the source said.

Yehor Cherniev, deputy chairman of the Defense Committee, believes that serving electronic conscription notices should be taken out of the bill, while the issue of liability for those who do not respond to military summons remains open. However, he believes that the document should be passed in the first reading, and then revised further.

However, problems may arise even with the adoption of new mobilization rules in the first reading. The parliament will consider the document in a week. By that time, the leadership of the Servant of the People faction will try to find a common ground not only with its MPs, but also with representatives from other parliamentary factions and groups.

“My faction alone has 17 resignation applications,” Arakhamia said.

“That is, we already have only 401 MPs in the parliament. We’ll lose another one for medical reasons [soon]. To be honest, it’s hard to get 226 votes out of 400. I know that other factions also have people willing to leave. We’ve decided that we won’t vote for vacating seats. Only for medical reasons. Otherwise, there are no more terms under which we will vote for vacating the seats—to keep the parliament legitimate.”

Read also: Ukrainian government sends revised mobilization bill to Verkhovna Rada, says MP Honcharenko

The government needs the support of all political forces in the parliament, except for European Solidarity and Batkivshchyna, to pass this document, a source in the ruling party told NV Business. After all, the party does not expect that the MPs led by Petro Poroshenko and Yulia Tymoshenko will share political responsibility for new mobilization rules.

Solomiia Bobrovska, member of the Holos (Voice) party and another member of the Defense Committee, told NV that she is not ready to give an assessment of the bill because she is still getting acquainted with the text of the updated version, which fills almost 100 pages. Her colleagues are not yet ready to back the document, she added.

 

Oleksiy Honcharenko, member of the European Solidarity faction, has already announced that he will promote an alternative bill instead.

Read also: Umerov and Zaluzhnyi to present new mobilization bill in parliament

At the same time, Honcharenko’s colleague from European Solidarity and Defense Committee member, Iryna Friz, told NV in an interview that the revised bill “looks much better than the previous one.” In particular, the updated version excludes granting excessive powers to military recruitment centers. Friz believes the bill will be adopted no earlier than March.

“If there is no split in the [ruling] majority (we know that they have certain additional votes from groups [in the parliament] and former [members] of OPPZh [the outlawed Opposition Platform – For Life party]), the bill could be passed,” she said.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine