Volunteers are being sought among inmates in Russian prisons to fight in Moscow’s war in neighboring Ukraine, according to human rights activists.
Suspects and defendants are recruited with the promise that authorities will drop criminal charges in return, Olga Romanova, a Russian civil rights activist based in Berlin, said in a Facebook post, citing examples from pre-trial detention centers. in the Moscow region.
“But I think the same thing is starting to happen everywhere,” says Romanova, an expert on the rights of prisoners in Russia.
Moscow is dependent on volunteers as no general conscription has been declared to pay the ranks of its armed forces fighting in Ukraine as part of the invasion that began in February.
The fact that in many areas officials are putting up advertisements on the streets calling on people to fight in the war may mean that there is a shortage of personnel at the front, notes the German Agency. Cities and regions of Russia are currently forming their own battalions.
In the Russian judicial system, almost all arraignments result in a guilty verdict, meaning that suspects and defendants appear to be forced to choose between going to war or going to prison.
The founder of Gulaga.net, a program set up to combat violence in Russian prisons, Vladimir Osechkin, confirmed prison recruitment practices from France, where he lives in exile. He stated that there are indications that this practice is being practiced in St. Petersburg, Ryazan, Tver and Bryansk.
Russian media have reported since July about the search for volunteers in several prisons in the country, according to the website Meduza, which reported that the mercenary company Wagner was recruiting convicts.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wanted Kremlin businessman and Wagner supporter, personally recruited volunteers in prisons, the Mediazona website reported.
According to reports, the prisoners are promised a monthly salary of 100,000 rubles (1,625 euros) as well as bonuses, payments to their families in the event of their death and amnesty.