More than 5,000 ex-convicts have been pardoned after concluding deals to fight in Russia’s Wagner mercenary group against Ukraine, Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday, Reuters reported.
Evgeny Prigozhin, mercenary leader of the Russian Wagner GroupPhoto: AFP / AFP / Profimedia
“Currently, more than 5,000 people have been pardoned after concluding agreements with Wagner,” Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said in an audio clip posted on Telegram.
The standard contract for criminals recruited by Wagner is six months.
He said only 0.31 percent of those pardoned following Wagner’s service committed crimes, which he said was 10 to 20 times lower than standard charges.
Prigozhin also has a criminal record, having served nine years in prison during the Soviet era for robbery and other crimes before entering the business in the 1990s, Reuters reports.
Disputes with the Russian Defense Ministry and the lack of military equipment, including the lack of bombs he has repeatedly complained about, are additional problems for Prigozhin to release convicts who have completed raids.
The Wagner group was going to find itself in a difficult situation, because although it had lost a large staff, it would be without a large part of the prisoners recruited in the fall, because they were pardoned after completing their six-month terms. And released, the British Ministry of Defense explained on Tuesday.
“While half of the conscripted prisoners may have been killed or wounded, reports from Russia suggest that they are keeping their promise to release survivors,” the quoted source noted.
According to Western estimates, the losses of the soldiers of the Russian side in the Pakmut sector, where the main fighting force was represented by the Wagner group, so far amounted to 20,000 – 30,000 fighters.
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