Putin's friend Prigozhin tours Russian prisons to recruit inmates for his Wagner Private Military Company fighting in Ukraine

Prisoners from the Yaroslavl and Tula regions (Russia) told the news outlet Mediazona how a short bald older man with a Hero of Russia star on his jacket, calling himself Yevgeny Prigozhin, tried to recruit them into his "paramilitary organized crime group".

Mediazona published the stories of two inmates about the visits to their penal colonies of "Putin's chef" Prigozhin, who offered convicts to take part in the war in Ukraine in exchange for money and pardon.

According to one inmate from Penal Colony No. 4 in the Tula region, Prigozhin arrived there on July 25. Speaking to the prisoners, he admitted that he himself "served time in the North." "I have special powers from the president, I don’t give a f**ck about anyone. I need to win this damn war at any cost," the inmate quoted Prigozhin as saying.

Another prisoner from the Penal Colony 2 in the Yaroslavl region said that Prigozhin came to visit them on August 1. Almost everyone was sent out from the barracks to meet him, including those who were in quarantine. A “short, bald" older man with the star of the hero of Russia on his jacket introduced himself as Yevgeny Prigozhin. He was accompanied by several armed men.

"We are not armed forces, but a real paramilitary organized crime group. My guys go to African countries and in two days do not leave anything alive there, and now they are also crashing enemies in Ukraine. Your decision to serve in a PMC is a deal with the devil. If you leave with me, you will either return as a free man or you will die. You will be obliged to kill enemies and follow the orders of the leadership. Those who turn back will be shot on the spot, " the prisoner quotes from memory the speech of a man who called himself Prigozhin.

According to the Mediazona’s interlocutor, Prigozhin said that the prisoners had already been "experimentally" used in the war, and out of 42 people, only five people allegedly died. "He says they fought like lions, attacked some positions with the knives and slaughtered everyone there," the inmate quoted Prigozhin as saying. Prigozhin also allegedly said that he prefers to hire not "domestic killers", but "the hardcore ones".

According to both sources, in his speeches Prigozhin estimated the probability of being killed at 15%.

As the newspaper notes, the main details of Prigozhin's visit in the stories of both prisoners coincide. The interlocutors of the publication are not familiar with each other.

Earlier, the media wrote that the Wagner PMC began to recruit prisoners in the penal colonies of St. Petersburg in order to send them to fight in Ukraine as "volunteers".

Yevgeny Prigozhin is known as “Putin’s chef”, since amongst other things, he delt with food supplies for the Russian authorities. The businessman met the Russian president in 2011 when, as the owner of an elite restaurant, he personally served Vladimir Putin and former French President Jacques Chirac.

  Prigozhin, Wagner, War in Ukraine