According to a newly drafted bill, Russian prisoners will be able to go to war and in some cases receive exemption from punishment if they «show courage and heroism in military service,” reported state-run news agency TASS.
“The bill will add Article 82.2 to [Russia’s] Criminal Code, providing for the possibility of deferring punishment in wartime, during mobilization, martial law or armed conflict to certain categories of convicts in connection with them being sent into combat,” an explanatory note to the document reads.
As one of the authors of the bill, Crimean Senator Olga Kovitidi, explained to TASS, the amendment will apply to prisoners with a term of less than five years – their incarceration will be deferred until the end of the war. However, if a convict displays “courage and heroism” during the war and “proves his rehabilitation,” the judiciary may then release him from the remaining term or commute the sentence.
Russia’s senators have also said that prisoners convicted of violating the rules of mass public gatherings and protest, rioting, “discrediting” the Armed Forces, “propaganda of Nazi symbols,” calls for sanctions against the Russian Federation and the «distribution of deliberately false information about the actions of the Armed Forces” will remain behind bars.
Investigative outlet iStories earlier reported that the Russian Defense Ministry is already recruiting prisoners in various penal colonies across the country. Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner PMC, has been engaged in the recruitment of convicts for several months. At first, convicts were sent to the front voluntarily, but recent reports have revealed that many are being sent to Ukraine by force.