Prigozhin claims to have stopped recruiting prisoners to Wagner PMC

The founder of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claims that his private military company no longer recruits new mercenaries in Russian prisons. "The recruitment of prisoners to the Wagner PMC has been completely stopped. All obligations to those who are now working in our country are fulfilled," his press service said in response to a question from Live24. The latter, citing a "large number of prisoners," wrote that the recruitment of mercenaries in the colonies has not been conducted for more than a month, and Wagner press service itself no longer visits the prisons.

Earlier, the independent publication Agenstvo Novosti reported that prisoners in Russian colonies who refuse to join the Wagner Group are threatened with new terms. "Convicts began to face new criminal cases if they do not agree to go to the war. And the detainees are promised to be released from criminal prosecution if they go to Ukraine," the Telegram channel Agentsvo Novosti reports, citing two lawyers and a human rights activist.

According to lawyer Yana Gelmel, the Russia security service representatives have been forcing convicts in the colonies of the Samara and Rostov regions, the Krasnodar Territory and the regions of the North Caucasus,to go to war. "Operatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the FSB come, threated to extend old cases of 10-20 years ago, for which the statute of limitations has already passed. They threaten that they will initiate cases against those who refuse to go to war," Gelmel, who protects the interests of prisoners, told Agenstvo. According to her, now, in contrast to the past summer and fall, information about killed and wounded mercenaries in Ukraine reaches the colonies. That is why much fewer inmates agree to join the Wagner PMC.

In turn, Human Rights Activist from Perm Oksana Asaulenko told reporters about similar recruitment tactics in the penal colonies of the Perm region. Yana Gelmel and another interlocutor of Agenstvo, who asked not to be named, noted that the main recruitment is carried out in the colonies of the regions located near the Ukrainian border, from which you can quickly get to the front.

The Telegram channel of the VCHK-OGPU also writes about the reluctance of prisoners to be recruited to the Wagner PMC: "Prisoners no longer wanted to go to PMCs, since about 10% [of those who went] remained alive." In January, an anonymous source told the channel: "New recruitment tours have begun in the prisons. But it's like scraping the bottom of an empty pot with a spook. Everyone, who they could, was taken away earlier." According to him, big problems with recruitment began "after serious losses in the battles for Soledar and other Ukrainian settlements."

Earlier, Mediazona reported about the second round of recruitments to the Wagner PMC in the penal colonies, which began at the end of 2022. Many mercenaries, who were recruited in the first round, have already died, and now there are much fewer volunteers because of the reports about high risks, the news outlet writes.

According to Mediazona, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who in the late summer and autumn of 2022 personally came to the penal colonies and recruited prisoners there, no longer visits prisons, but sends his subordinates there.

  Prigozhin, Wagner, War in Ukraine