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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Freedom Or Death? Wagner Group Struggles To Recruit New Prisoners For Russia's War

Many of the convicts that the Wagner Group mercenary outfit enlisted to fight in Ukraine are dead or missing, which has created a major recruitment problem for the paramilitary group headed by Putin confidante Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Photo of a Wagner Group fighter in front of a destroyed building in the snow

A Wagner Group fighter near the embattled town of Soledar

Ivan Noyabrev/TASS via ZUMA

Back in September, Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the private paramilitary Wagner Group, promised a full pardon to any Russian prisoners who agreed to fight in Ukraine. It was a critical recruitment tool to bolster Vladimir Putin's announcement at the time of a "partial" mobilization of new troops.

Then in January, the first group of convicts, who had supposedly “fulfilled their contracts” with Wagner, had all past criminal charges erased from their record.

Yet now, amid fears of a new wave of Russian mobilization, convicts in Russian penal colonies who are refusing to go to the front line are being threatened with new criminal cases and sentences, Russian independent news site Agenstvo reports.

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