A sanctioned Russian businessman and close ally of Putin were implicated in the infamous affair Wagner’s group is said to have gone on a solo tour Russian Prison and recruited prisoners to join the war in Ukraine.
That’s according to a new report on Saturday by the independent store Mediazona, interviews with two prisoners held in different facilities in different regions of Russia. Multiple reports have surfaced in recent weeks about Wagner’s alleged new recruitment move among prisoners, with Russia’s private military force appearing to be trying to support decimated Russian forces. exhausted due to heavy losses in the war that lasted nearly six months.
But this seems to be the first time Yevgeny Prigozhin, often referred to as “Putin’s chef,” has appealed to prisoners.
“They are primarily concerned with murderers and robbers, they treat drug addicts with caution, the same goes for rapists. It’s better because it’s not the usual killers, but straight calculation – you’ll love it with us, he said. In general, he has the impression of a maniac,” an unnamed inmate told Mediazona.
He went on to note that there seemed to be no compulsion to participate, although “a lot” had signed up, he said, estimating that at least 200 inmates enthusiastically accepted the offer.
Inmates are said to have been offered a free amnesty and a salary in exchange for their service, with the man identified as Prigozhin promising they had a 15% chance of dying, one child. The number is based on an “experimental” deployment of prisoners in early July.
During an alleged visit by Prigozhin to a crime colony in Rybinsk, in the Yaroslavl region, on August 1, the prisoners were informed that “World War Three” was underway and that they were taking a chance. fighting for his homeland, one prisoner’s account told Mediazona.
“My people went to African countries and for two days they left nothing there, and now they are also destroying the enemy in Ukraine. Your decision to serve in [private military company] is a deal with the devil. If you leave here with me, you will return a free man or you will die. You will be required to kill the enemies and obey the orders of the leader. Those who withdraw will be shot on the spot,” one prisoner quoted Prigozhin as saying.
An inmate at a penal colony in Plavsk, in the Tula region, told Mediazona that prisoners received a visit from Prigozhin on July 25, during which he allegedly said, “I have authority especially from the president, I don’t care, I need to win this damn war at any cost.”
After the visit, during which Prigozhin is said to have been accompanied by other Wagner representatives, the prisoners are said to have been blocked from using phones. And according to a friend of one of the prisoners in Plavsk, Wagner’s representatives said they would return to visit again in two or three months if they “run out” of prisoners from the first round of recruitment.
Several human rights groups have also reported on Wagner’s alleged recruitment move, including Rus Sidyashaya, who said both prisoners and their families have informed Wagner and Gulagu.net, a human rights group. the right to monitor conditions for prisoners in the penal colonies of Russia.
Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the human rights group Gulagu.net, wrote on Facebook recently that an inmate at a high-security facility talked about how Prigozhin, Putin’s close friend, arrived by helicopter at the end of July and preached. About 150 prisoners took part in the war.
According to Mediazona, the man identified by inmates as Prigozhin tried to have sex with them by saying he had served a prison sentence.
So far, according to the independent newspaper Verstkaalso closely covered the alleged Wagner recruitment ring, the mercenary group that recruited more than 1,000 prisoners in 17 different penal colonies across Russia.
Prigozhin has long been accused by Western officials and investigative journalists of funding Wagner, Prigozhin has denied any connection to the paramilitary force, a shadowy group that has left its mark longstanding allegations of war crimes in Ukraine, Syria and the Central African Republic.
In a statement to Verstka about Wagner’s alleged recruitment motivations for the war in Ukraine, the press service of Prigozhin’s company Concord Management sent back a comment from the businessman in which he avoided answering directly. continue if he is recruiting prisoners but admits that he “was in” [penal] colonial in the 80s”.