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Russia. The first group of prisoners, mercenaries of the Wagner Group, returned from Ukraine to Russia

Russia.  The first group of prisoners, mercenaries of the Wagner Group, returned from Ukraine to Russia

Russia. The first group of prisoners, mercenaries of the Wagner Group, returned from Ukraine to Russia

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a pro-Kremlin businessman and founder of the Wagner Group, announced on Thursday that the first group of prisoners fighting in Ukraine in his formation had returned to Russia. The sentences of the convicts – as he stated – were erased after the end of the six-month contract.

The Russian propaganda agency RIA Novosti reported that there are about 20 former prisoners in the group, their names have not been disclosed, and it is not known what they were serving sentences for.

In the recording published by RIA Novosti, the founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, shook hands with the mercenaries and congratulated them on “the completion of a six-month contract”. The sanctioned pro-Kremlin businessman also said in his speech that “society should treat them with the deepest respect.”

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Prigozhin said that “many of those who were in prison were due to be released in a few days. However, they decided to defend their homeland.” The sentences of the convicts – as he announced – have been expunged. How this was formalized legally is not known.

The independent portal Meduza, commenting on the recording published by RIA Novosti, wrote that Prigozhin turned to former prisoners sitting in front of him on crutches and in wheelchairs, advising them not to “drink too much”, “do not use drugs” and ” did not rape women.

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Members of the Wagner Group in front of the formation’s headquarters in St. Petersburg IGOR RUSSAK / Reuters / Forum

Search for mercenaries in Chechen prisons

In early January, Russian independent media reported that announcements had appeared in Rostov-on-Don the search for six armed and dangerous prisonersrecruited for the war against Ukraine by the Wagner Group.

Prigozhin’s formation began recruiting prisoners last summer. Prigozhin – as claimed by the Russian defenders human rights – personally visited penal colonies, and promised convicts to get out of prison in exchange for fighting on the Ukrainian front.

On Thursday, Ukrainian military intelligence reported that the Wagner Group had begun recruiting prisoners in penal colonies in Chechnya.

RIA Novosti, meduza.io, Ukrainian Truth

Main photo source: REUTERS

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