Ukraine jails reporter who campaigned against army draft

12th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

A Ukrainian court on Thursday jailed for 3.5 years a reporter who campaigned to allow conscientious objectors not to fight pro-Russian rebels in the separatist east.

A television journalist from the western region of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ruslan Kotsaba, 49, was arrested in February 2015 after he posted a video urging people to dodge the military draft.

"I would prefer to go to prison than to take part in this fratricidal war," Kotsaba said in the footage, which was viewed more than 300,000 times.

"I refuse to be drafted and call on everyone who is called up to refuse," he said.

Kotsaba's lawyer Tetyana Montyan wrote on Facebook that her defendant was sentenced "for obstructing the armed forces of Ukraine".

Ukrainian media reports suggest the country's cash-strapped force has had difficulty mobilising new soldiers, who fear being sent to the front with outdated equipment and subjected to maltreatment by their officers.

The two-year pro-Russian insurgency has killed more than 9,300 people, and sporadic fighting continues despite repeated attempts to impose a lasting truce.

© 2016 AFP

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