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Putin 'recruiting prisoners' as 'cannon fodder' to fight for Russia in Ukraine amid troop shortages


Russia is recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine with the promise of almost £3,000 and their sentences being annulled if they come back alive after six months.

Inmates are being actively recruited in St Petersburg jails, according to independent media outlet IStories.

The convicts are told they will be put on the frontline to hunt down ‘Nazis’ in Ukraine in an arrangement that suggests they will be deployed as cannon fodder.

Private military company Wagner – seen as working hand in glove with Vladimir Putin’s armed forces and with close Kremlin links – is reported to be behind a recruitment drive at penal colonies number 7 ‘Yablonevka’, number 6 ‘Obukhovo’, and number 4 Fornosovo.

The FSB security service – once headed by Putin – is also reported to be involved.

Inmates from two colonies in St Petersburg - number 6 and number 7 - were reportedly given an offer to get freedom and money in exchange for fighting in Ukraine

Inmates from two colonies in St Petersburg – number 6 and number 7 – were reportedly given an offer to get freedom and money in exchange for fighting in Ukraine 

Russia is recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine with the promise of almost £3,000 and their sentences being annulled if they come back alive after six months

Russia is recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine with the promise of almost £3,000 and their sentences being annulled if they come back alive after six months

The convicts are told they will be put on the frontline to hunt down 'Nazis' in Ukraine

The convicts are told they will be put on the frontline to hunt down ‘Nazis’ in Ukraine

If true, the reports indicate the desperation of Russia to mobilise from unexpected quarters, an indication that more conventional recruitment bids are failing with commanders worried about manpower shortages.

A relative of one convict said: ‘So-called ‘inspectors’ came to Yablonevka on Friday evening.

‘They talked to convicts and asked them to “defend Motherland”….

‘My relative was told this: “It is very hard to find Nazis, they are prepared very well.

‘You will be in vanguard, help find the Nazis – this is why not everyone will return”.

‘At first, they said that about 20 per cent would return.

‘Then — that “almost no one will come back”.

‘Those who survive are promised a reward of 200,000 roubles [£2,800] and an amnesty.

‘And if he dies, they promise to pay the family 5 million rubles [£70,000].

‘But this is all words, it will not be recorded anywhere on paper.’

Private military company Wagner - seen as working hand in glove with Vladimir Putin’s armed forces and with close Kremlin links - is reported to be behind a recruitment drive at prisons

Private military company Wagner – seen as working hand in glove with Vladimir Putin’s armed forces and with close Kremlin links – is reported to be behind a recruitment drive at prisons

MC Wagner mercenaries pose at Popasna, the Sievierodonetsk district of the Luhansk Oblast, eastern Ukraine

MC Wagner mercenaries pose at Popasna, the Sievierodonetsk district of the Luhansk Oblast, eastern Ukraine 

Inmates in St Petersburg jails are told they will hunt down 'Nazis' on the frontline as Putin turns to desperate measures to try and turn the tide in his war in Ukraine

Inmates in St Petersburg jails are told they will hunt down ‘Nazis’ on the frontline as Putin turns to desperate measures to try and turn the tide in his war in Ukraine

At first the recruitment drive was only for those with previous military service but now it seems that it is open to all convicts, though not those serving 20 years or more for the most heinous crimes.

A source told IStories: ‘About 200 people wanted to sign up, but in the end they registered about 40, and they were even tested on a lie detector.

‘My loved one wanted to agree, but we, relatives, made a tantrum with threats.

‘Now he swears that he will not go, but he definitely hesitates, because he sees this as an opportunity to earn money.

‘He says: “If the worst happens, I will earn you the money for an apartment”.’

A relative of a prisoner who was selected to fight with Wagner said: ‘He was bribed with the promise that in six months he would return home and his criminal record would be wiped out.

‘In addition, when six months have passed and those wanting to continue serving will be provided with a job.’

Vladimir Osechkin, Russian founder of Gulagu.net (currently in exile in France)

Vladimir Osechkin, Russian founder of Gulagu.net (currently in exile in France)

It was claimed the inmates would be sent to war without passports or identification tokens.

Another source, Vladimir Osechkin, exiled founder of human rights group gulagu.net, said that FSB officers were ‘currently recruiting volunteers for Donbas among prisoners’ in Yablonevka.

Convicts ‘are openly told that they will have neither documents nor a badge, and their bodies will not be given to their relatives [in the event they are killed]’, he said.

Those selected after agreeing to fight are taken away almost immediately.

The men were signing a ‘bonded contract’ with Wagner, it was claimed.

‘Prisoner’s families are horrified by what is happening,’ said gulag.net. ‘Many have wives, children. Convicts who have agreed to leave talk like zombies with their relatives….

‘Please help stop this lawlessness. Convicts who have families waiting for them cannot voluntarily agree to this.

‘The state in which the convicts are in the colony does not allow them to make [an informed] choice. Please help.’



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