The head of the Russian private military company Wagner said that the prisoners have fulfilled the terms of the contracts they signed and are reintegrating into society.
Some 32,000 men who were recruited from Russian prisons to fight in the conflict in Ukraine have returned to their country, the head of Russia’s private military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said on Sunday.
They fulfilled the terms of the contracts they signed, he clarified.
Human rights groups and many women are concerned that thousands of criminals, including those convicted of murder and other violent crimes, have been given favors and reintegrated into Russian society prematurely.
In some cases, some have already committed new murders.
For the head of Wagner, on the other hand, it is a great program of reintegration into society. Mr. Prigozhin assured yesterday via Telegram that those released have committed only 83 crimes. This is less than eighty times the number of felonies committed by criminals released after serving their sentences, he argued.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, considered a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, personally recruited some of the convicts. Those who signed contracts stipulating that they would fight in Ukraine would be pardoned by the occupant of the Kremlin. The condition was that they served for at least six months on the battlefields in Ukraine.
In March, Mr. Prigozhin stated that the number of ex-prisoners in Wagner’s ranks was 5,000. After the capture of the city of Bakhmut (eastern Ukraine; the Russians use its Soviet name, Artyomovsk), he said his mercenary company’s losses there reached 20,000 men, including 10,000 former prisoners.
In many cases, he personally saw to it that ex-convicts were buried with military honors.
Human rights organizations point out that the Russian army is now recruiting en masse in prisons.
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