Witnesses Against War #18: PriZoners. Criminal choices of the Russian regime

12 July 2022

Source: Witnesses Against War

Witnesses Against War is an anonymous international group of journalists, writers, historians and translators, who live in Moscow and London. For reasons of security, their project is anonymous. In addition to the above websiste, you can also find them on Instagram  and Telegram.

Illustration Yury Pogorelov

According to several sources, the Russian authorities some time ago began illegally recruiting Russian prisoners to go and fight in the war in Ukraine. As studies by independent experts such as Gulagu.net show, over the past 20 years, the Russian Special Services have subjugated the criminal world, using criminals as a resource to carry out various shady schemes, in particular for hostile takeovers of businesses and enterprises with so-called raider attacks, a widespread practice in Russia in the first decade after Putin came to power.

According to the testimonies of investigative journalists – prisoners, including those with serious criminal charges, are being encouraged to illegally (ie without signing documents) take part in the war in Ukraine in exchange for their criminal record being dropped, and a ridiculously small amount of money – about 200,000 roubles ($3,400).

Obviously, the plan is to use the newly recruited prisoners as cannon fodder on the frontline. As is well known in Russia – Russian prison is hell. The prison system is the direct heir of Stalin’s infamous GULAG, virtually unreformed since the collapse of the USSR. In this awful system, built on corruption and violence, the prisoner is absolutely powerless, – lives in the most difficult conditions, is subjected to deprivation of all kinds, and is regularly tortured and bullied. The Russian prison breaks people both physically and psychologically. Therefore, it is not surprising that many people who are not burdened with moral and ethical principles and who are sentenced to long terms, decide to try their luck, get out of this hell, and participate in the criminal war in Ukraine, even at the very likely cost of their lives.

Russia is a country in which power has been seized by a criminal mafia group led by Putin. Nothing is too low and there are no crimes that this group would not commit to in order to achieve its goals.

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