Russia has 23,000 fewer prisoners after recruiting drive by Russia’s Wagner mercenary company – Mediazona

19 November 2022, 11:38 AM
Prisoners illegally transferred to front to fight in war, relatives told their whereabouts ‘classified’ (Photo:REUTERS/Igor Russak)

Prisoners illegally transferred to front to fight in war, relatives told their whereabouts ‘classified’ (Photo:REUTERS/Igor Russak)

The total number of prisoners in Russian correctional institutions in September and October decreased by 23,000 people likely due to the recruitment of prisoners for the war against Ukraine by Russia’s Wagner mercenary company, Russian outlet Mediazona reported on Nov. 18.

Referring to the statistics from the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS), the publication wrote that at the beginning of September there were almost 348,000 people in the colonies. By early October, this number decreased significantly to 338,000, and as of early November it had plummeted to 325,000.

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At the same time, according to Mediazona, the number of those in pre-trial detention centers or penal colonies, as well as the number of convicted women remains virtually unchanged. Mediazona stressed that in recent years the number of prisoners has never fallen so sharply – even during an amnesty. They assume the fall now was connected to recruitment of prisoners by Wagner to fight in the war against Ukraine.

Mediazona writes that such recruitment does not comply with current Russian legislation: "Presumably, those who agreed are transferred to colonies in the Rostov Oblast on paper; it is unclear how the FPS explains their subsequent absence from their place of detention."

When asked, relatives of the recruits are told that their whereabouts are classified information.

The Ukrainian military’s General Staff reported on Nov. 18 that Russian mercenary company Wagner Group has started recruiting employees of enterprises in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, which borders Ukraine near Kharkiv.

Spokesman for Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Andriy Yusov said earlier that Wagner, which was conceived as an "elite unit", is now being used by the Kremlin regime as a source of cannon fodder.

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