Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has announced that men without military experience will be banned from leaving the country as long as martial law is in effect. The statement was posted on the president’s website on Monday in response to a petition urging that men between the ages 18 and 60 be allowed to travel abroad.
The petition, which was signed by over 27,000 people, says many Ukrainian men are unfit for military service but could be useful in other fields. The author argued that if these people were allowed to work abroad, they could help refugees and send back money to aid the military, which, the text says, already has enough capable people.
“Fighting should be fought by able-bodied people. We have many IT, social, creative, technical, and other specialists who can fight on the information front and be more useful working abroad, helping our refugees and supporting the army with earned funds,” the petition reads.
The author claimed that Kiev’s travel restrictions aimed at certain categories of citizens resemble “Soviet practices, which [Ukraine] is gradually getting rid of,” and offered the example of Estonia, which only prohibits travel to those who are the subjects of criminal proceedings.
“Therefore, we ask the president of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, to allow men aged 18-60 who do not have military experience and are of limited fitness to travel abroad,” the petition concludes.
According to Ukrainian law, if an online petition receives more than 25,000 signatures, the president must issue a response. Zelensky replied by pointing to Article 64 of the constitution, which states that freedom of movement may be limited for Ukrainian citizens in the event of an emergency or the introduction of martial law.
The president explained that according to the constitution, during a period of “martial law, the constitutional rights and freedoms of a person and a citizen… may be limited.”
He went on to note that “the abolition of these restrictions is expected to be carried out after the end of the legal regime of martial law.”
Ukraine’s Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, approved Zelensky’s decree introducing martial law in the country on February 24, 2022, after Moscow launched its military operation against Kiev. The Rada has since extended the period of martial law several times, most recently prolonging it for an additional 90 days, until November 21.