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Ukraine’s parliament on Wednesday passed a bill allowing convicts to voluntarily trade jail time for military service, part of an effort by the government to mobilize more soldiers in its fight against Russia – which includes an unpopular lowering of the draft age, Politico reported.

The bill drew inspiration from the practices of the Russian mercenary force, Wagner Group, the outlet noted. However, it differed in that those prisoners convicted of serious crimes – such as murder, rape and terrorism – would be ineligible to apply.

Under the new law, convicts could appeal to local courts to obtain conditional early release in exchange for military service that would last until the government announces a demobilization.

The convicts will only return to prison if they have committed another crime before the end of their service.

Ukraine has tried this type of recruitment before: After Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Kyiv pardoned more than 300 prisoners who pledged to join the military. Justice Minister Denys Malyuska said thousands of others were interested in a similar scheme.

While introducing the bill in March, he had previously said that he saw nothing wrong in recruiting individuals who know how to kill – if those skills are directed against the enemy.

Nonetheless, after pressure from activist groups, parliament agreed to amendments to narrow the scope of the recruitment effort. Lawmakers and government officials who committed crimes will also be ineligible to benefit from the new law or reduce their jail time.

A Ukrainian watchdog, the Anti-Corruption Action Center, said this represented “a victory with a bitter taste,” because individuals from the presidential staff, heads of public companies and members of the judiciary can also apply.

Desperate for more soldiers, Ukraine hopes the law could allow up to 10,000 convicts to join the army’s ranks. A controversial bill to lower the draft age for men from 27 of age to 25 is still in the works.

The bill’s approval came after Russia hit Ukraine with one of its biggest missile attacks Wednesday. The strikes targeted the country’s energy sector in regions including Zaporizhzhia, home to a nuclear power plant, and Lviv.

The attacks occurred as Ukraine commemorated its Day of Remembrance of victory over Nazism at the end of World War II, CNN wrote.

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