The recruitment of convicts in Russian prisons and colonies is often handled directly by the head of the Private Military Company (PMC) Wagner, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who previously spent nine years in prison himself. He visits penal colonies all over Russia and encourages inmates to sign contracts.
In new footage which appeared on Feb. 21, Prigozhin can be seen motivating Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine. The head of the Wagner terrorist group, during his visit to the colony, said that preference would be given to "candidates" who have already served 15 years and with such a term ahead.
“Who do we need? 30-45-year-olds, not the first time convicted, who have served 15 years or more, and who still have 15 years or more ahead. Preferably more than once for murder and grievous bodily harm, robbery, and if beaten police officers, that's even better.
“We need your criminal talents. I served ten years before becoming a hero of Russia, and I have some talents that are handy in my life.” Prigozhin said.
The video also features an answer to a prisoner's question about the Russian Federation's prospects for its war against Ukraine.
"The prospects are not the best… Everything that was conceived was conceived [very badly]. They thought that [Ukrainians] would be scared, but they have iron balls. Ukrainians are just like us. You take a Ukrainian prisoner and ask – why don't you surrender? And he answers - why don't you surrender?”
Wagner's militants are known for their exceptional brutality and cruelty. Due to the recruitment of mercenaries from correctional colonies, their atrocities cross all human boundaries. Wagner's military committed the most terrible war crimes in Ukraine.
The group continues to recruit prisoners into its ranks who are offered a pardon and release in exchange for six months of service in the hottest parts of Russia's war in Ukraine.
On Jan. 27, the U.S. Treasury Department declared Wagner a transnational criminal organization and imposed sanctions on a number of related companies and individuals.
According to Russian Foundation Rus Sidyaschaya, more than 40,000 prisoners were recruited to Wagner on Jan. 1. Approximately 29,000 of them were either killed, wounded, or went missing.
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