The Russian parliament has passed a bill in the third reading legitimizing the mobilization of individuals with an unexpunged or outstanding conviction for grave offenses. Judging by the list of exemptions, rapists and murderers will be sent to the war in Ukraine. As RBC reports, the bill suggests amending a clause of the Law On Mobilization, under which individuals convicted for serious crimes could not be drafted earlier.
Under the new bill, only the following criminal offenses prevent mobilization: sexual molestation of minors, terrorism-related crimes, taking of hostages, high treason, organizing an illegal armed group, organizing and financing of an extremist group and public calls for extremism, aircraft hijacking, illegal treatment of nuclear materials, confidential cooperation with a foreign state or organization, espionage, state official assassination attempt, and violent coup.
Despite the bill being enacted in its final reading only now, the military recruitment of inmates convicted for serious crimes for the war in Ukraine began a long time ago – without legitimate grounds. September saw the surfacing of a video in which Evgeny “Putin’s chef” Prigozhin recruits the inmates of Penal Colony No. 6 in Yoshkar-Ola to send them to Ukraine. The video shows him delivering an address about the conditions of service to a row of inmates. Although Prigozhin had sued those calling him the head of the Wagner PMC multiple times, he later admitted to having established it.
Even before the video emerged, inmates had shared with The Insider that Prigozhin, a repeat offender himself, was recruiting convicted criminals in Russian penal colonies personally, promising they would walk free after six months of combat. Prigozhin's own criminal record includes theft, fraud, and the involvement of minors in criminal activities. His mercenaries are known to participate in many operations overseas, and in many cases (including in Ukraine) they report directly to the GRU (Russia’s chief intelligence directorate). His nickname, ‘Putin's chef’, stems from his organizing catering in the Kremlin. Another PMC founder finances the so-called “Internet Research Agency” – Russia’s largest “troll factory”. In February 2018, a US federal court in the District of Columbia indicted the “troll factory” for interference with the 2016 presidential election in the US.