Moscow, Nov 4 (EFE).- Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday urged civilians to evacuate from dangerous areas in Kherson, the southern Ukrainian region that was recently illegally annexed by the Kremlin.
“Now it is, of course, necessary to relocate those who live in Kherson from the most dangerous zone because civilians should not suffer from bombardments, from some offensive, counter-offensive and other measures related to military activities,” he said at an event commemorating the heroes of the rebellion against the 17th century Polish invasion, Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharskyt to mark National Unity Day.
Putin, who on September 21 ordered the mobilization of 300,000 army reservists, further indicated that currently the total number of people who have joined the ranks to fight in Ukraine stands at 318,000.
“Why 318,000? Because of the volunteers. The number (of volunteers) is not decreasing. Of them 49,000 are already carrying out combat missions and the rest are still undergoing military training,” he said.
Putin stressed that these soldiers have families, parents, wives and children and that “of course the state is doing everything to support them”.
National Unity Day, in memory of the expulsion of the Polish invaders from Moscow in 1612, was instituted as a national holiday in 2005.
Putin also signed a law on Friday that will allow prisoners serving sentences for certain serious crimes to be drafted into the armed forces.
The document was published after a video emerged showing the founder of the mercenary Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, going to prisons to recruit inmates for the war in Ukraine.
Until now, citizens with an outstanding felony conviction were not subject to compulsory military service or mobilization, but the new law outlines which crimes bar inmates from being called up.
They include convictions of sexual abuse of a minor, terrorist acts, hostage taking, organization of illegal armed groups, hijackings, unlawful handling of nuclear materials and radioactive substances, theft, extortion, treason, espionage, violent seizure of power, armed rebellion, public calls for extremist activities, and incitement to hatred, among others. EFE