Wagner intimidated recruited prisoners with execution videos, BBC reports

8 December 2022, 11:45 PM
Center of

Center of "Wagnerians" in St. Petersburg (Photo:REUTERS/Igor Russak)

Russia’s private military company Wagner Group used footage of executions to intimidate and discipline the fighters it recruited from Russian prisons, BBC Russian Service reported on Dec. 8.

According to one source, those who wanted to join Wagner were shown a short execution video on a tablet: “In the video a deserter says – I, so-and-so, a traitor…, left my comrades on the front line – and then he is shot in the back of the head.”

BBC journalists didn’t see this footage, but their source in another prison colony said that in September they were shown a video where a man was hanged from an iron beam. Prior to this, several BBC sources close to the mercenary group claimed to know about at least three such killings.

Video of day

The BBC also relayed the story of 26-year-old Russian captive, Alexander Bolchev, who was recruited in a prison colony by Wagner. According to him, he spent two months “in training” and then one day at the front. He asked not to be exchanged in POW swaps, saying that "they (Wagner PMC) would immediately kill" him.

Ukrainian Military Intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov previously said that Wagner Group troops, initially conceived as an elite unit, are now relegated to serve as cannon fodder for the Russian military.

The total number of prisoners in Russian penitentiary institutions in September and October decreased by 23,000 people, Russian outlet Mediazona reported in November.

On Nov. 12, a video was posted by the Wagner-linked GREY ZONE Telegram channel, showing the execution of Wagner mercenary Yevgeny Nuzhin, whose head was crushed with a sledgehammer.

Nuzhin was captured by the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the beginning of September. He was then presumably sent back to Russia in a POW swap, and subsequently executed by his former employers.

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