UF law student fights to get brother out of Ukraine with new warning for Americans to leave immediately
TAMPA, Fla. - A University of Florida law student has been fighting for months to get his brother out of Ukraine, but his brother's dual-citizenship status is making it nearly impossible. It comes as the U.S. Embassy issues a new warning to Americans Tuesday to leave now because Russian attacks are expected to intensify.
The new warning is nothing Volodymyr Boitchouk hasn't already heard.
"It's a little annoying to keep having the government say Americans get out it's like, Oh, well, we would love to. It would be nice if maybe somebody could talk to someone about why it's so hard for Americans to leave Ukraine," Boitchouk said.
His 23-year-old brother Myroslav Boitchouk was born in Florida and is a U.S. citizen, but before the war he was required to obtain Ukrainian citizenship in order to attend school there. Under Ukrainian law, if your parents were both born in Ukraine you're automatically considered a Ukrainian citizen no matter where you were born and right now all Ukrainian males ages 18 to 60 are banned from the leaving the country in case of a mandatory draft.
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According to Boitchouk, the rule that was set to expire Tuesday, but instead the Ukrainian government chose to extend it.
"He's annoyed and frustrated and resigned. He's being bounced around between the border and the and the immigration officials constantly," Boitchouk said.
He said his brother has severe asthma and would never be fit to serve. One option to leave would be to request to be delisted from the Ukrainian military, but first he would have to officially register, and they worry and if he does the military could force him to serve regardless of his health problems.
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"He himself is very afraid of that more than even the rest of us so he's told us that he refuses out of the concern that they might try to pull something," Boitchouk said.
Boitchouk feels the State Department has a responsibility to address the dual-citizenship issue facing American men and soon. Meanwhile, he's hoping something can be done to repeal the ban on Ukrainian males leaving the country. "They don't even need it anymore. The whole concern was that people would try to flee the country instead of staying to defend it, but now it looks like morale in the Ukrainian military and among Ukrainians is high so that concern is gone," Boitchouk said.