Around 150 Russian inmates serving sentences in Penal Colony No. 6 in Yoshkar-Ola volunteered to go to war in Ukraine after a pep talk delivered by Evgeny Prigozhin, Putin’s close ally and co-owner of the Wagner PMC. Human rights activist Ivan Astashin has alerted The Insider to the fact, citing his sources.
On September 14, the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel posted a video of Prigozhin briefing the inmates lined up in front of him in Penal Colony No. 6 on the conditions of service at Wagner.
“I only need stormtroopers. ... Those who move forward, those who are the most vigorous, they survive better. Those who retreat, who don't understand what they have to do, get screwed,” said “Putin's chef.”
According to Prigozhin, the minimum age for a person to be sent to war in Ukraine is 22. However, if the applicant is younger, the problem can be solved with a note from relatives that they are not against his enrolment. The maximum age is supposed to be 50.
Prigozhin warned that all applicants must be interviewed and must complete several tests. Also, special attention will be paid to those serving time for drug and sexual abuse-related crimes, with the former to be tested by the polygraph. After six months of service, the inmates will be pardoned and sent home, Prigozhin said.
The biggest “sin,” according to Prigozhin, is desertion:
“No one backs down, no one retreats, no one surrenders. When you are trained on what to do when surrendering, you will be told about the two grenades you must have on you... Those who arrive and on the first day say, ‘I must’ve come to the wrong place,’ are marked as ‘deserters’, and that’s followed by a firing squad.”
Another “sin” is looting, by which Prigozhin means, among other things, sexual contacts with “local women, flora, fauna, men, anyone”.
It is noteworthy that Prigozhin also explicitly said he owns the Wagner PMC. Thus, he claimed to have combat aircraft, MLRSs, and tanks “in his PMC.” He also mentioned there was an option to stay in the Wagner PMC after serving in Ukraine. Those killed in action were promised burial in their hometowns on the alleys of heroes or near the PMC’s chapel in Goryachii Klyuch.
Prigozhin also spoke about the first inmates who were recruited:
“The first inmates who fought alongside me, on June 1, during the storming of the Uglegorsk TPP. Forty people from St. Petersburg, strict regime, repeat offenders. They got into the enemy trenches and slaughtered the enemy with knives. Three were killed, seven wounded. One of those killed was 52 years old, of which he served thirty in prison. He died as a hero.”
Back in August, The Insider already wrote about Prigozhin recruiting inmates in penal colonies. According to convicts, Prigozhin openly admits that their recruitment was sanctioned by Putin himself, says he represents “an organized crime group helping the Russian army”, and promises inmates a monthly salary of $1,700-$3,800, showing a preference for convicted murderers.