The Russian State Duma passed a law on Tuesday, June 20, that absolves participants in the war with Ukraine who commit minor or moderate offenses of any criminal liability. The legislation, swiftly approved in both the second and third readings, also permits convicted and medically unfit individuals to serve under contract during periods of mobilization and martial law.
Last autumn, Russia lifted its conscription ban on recruiting citizens with criminal records for serious crimes, with exceptions made for offenses including acts of terrorism, treason, and extremism.
Shortly after the large-scale invasion of Ukraine, a surge in enlistment was observed among prisoners in Russian correctional facilities, who eagerly joined private military companies such as Wagner.
Promised amnesty and financial incentives, criminals left their jail cells to take part in assault groups on the frontline. However, in February 2023, the founder of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced a halt to the recruitment of prisoners, claiming that the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation had taken over efforts for the recruitment within prisons.
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