Russian Guard recruiting ex-convicts who fought in Wagner ranks - media

Russian Guard recruiting ex-convicts who fought in Wagner ranks - media

The Russian Guard units are reportedly recruiting former prisoners from the Wagner PMC, who were pardoned for participating in a full-scale war against Ukraine.

That’s according to the Russian opposition publication Vazhnye Istorii, Ukrifnorm reports.

According to the report, messages about recruitment to the Russian Guard began to appear in closed chat rooms for families of mercenaries at the end of the summer. Several members of such groups confirmed to journalists that ex-prisoners convicted of minor and moderate crimes are indeed invited to the Russian Guard but "not to command positions and not even as mid-rank officers."

The publication's correspondent confirmed the reports by calling HR departments of several Russian Guard units, posing as a former mercenary with the Wagner Group with a cleared criminal record. The journalist learned from HR officers that former convicts from Yevgeny Prigozhin's group can indeed enter the service with the Russian Guard, but it all depends on the nature of the crime they committed and how long ago the potential candidate served their term.

Read also: Liquidation of Prigozhin and top of Wagner PMC: What Does It Benefit Ukraine?

For example, a person convicted of a drug-related offense was refused admission to the Moscow unit of the Russian Guard, and in the Rostov unit, a journalist who posed as a mercenary who served a term for theft was offered to sign a contract and go to guard "strategic objects" in the occupied part of Donetsk region. An HR officer also told the journalist that work in Rostov-on-Don is not available for ex-convicts.

As reported, Russian convicts have been actively recruited to participate in the war in Ukraine from the summer of 2022. They are promised pardons and monetary rewards. In June 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that he was signing pardon decrees for prisoners who agreed to fight in Ukraine.

At first, it was Yevgeniy Prigozhin who was engaged in the recruitment of convicts for his Wagner Group. In February 2023, it was announced that the company had stopped recruiting prisoners. Instead, the Ministry of Defense picked up on the effort. In September, the ministry proposed that convicts be put on "special military draft" lists.

In June 2023, Vladimir Putin signed a law that allows military units to sign contracts with convicts, as well as those suspected and indicted in criminal cases.

Photo: RFE/RL Graphics

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