Hammer blow to Putin as drafted convicts quit army to go on armed crime sprees


Vladimir Putin’s ploy to recruit Russian prisoners for his army appears to have spectacularly backfired. The Russian President has attempted to fill out the ranks of his depleted army by offering criminals in penal colonies the chance to fight in Ukraine in return for the pardoning of their sentences. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner private militia, was subsequently filmed touring Russian prisons and offering the inmates a shot at redemption.

In one clip that went viral on social media, the militia boss was shown telling inmates that they would be freed if they served six months with his group.

Mr Prigozhin, whose nickname is “Putin’s chef”, warned the prisoners that they faced execution if they signed up and later deserted.

However, his warnings appear to have gone unheeded by some of the recruited villains.

Reports have started to emerge that enlisted convicts have begun to desert from Putin’s army.

Moreover, they seem to have taken their weapons with them and formed armed gangs, which are now roaming through Russia.

Richard Engel, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent, wrote on his Twitter account: “A Ukrainian military officer says hundreds of Russian convicts offered pardons for combat have already showed up on the battlefield in Ukraine.

“Some have gone AWOL with their weapons to carry out crimes back in Russia.”

An anti-Putin activist also appeared to confirm reports of marauding armed gangs of drafted convicts in Russia.

@turkmendagz said: “They write that the criminals mobilised by Prigozhin, having received weapons, began to run away from their units and create armed gangs.

“There is nothing unexpected in this.

“Now the lads have something to go to rob citizens and banks.”

The Wagner boss recently took aim at Russian MPs, urging them to stop talking and to go and fight in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Putin tipped to purge Kremlin elite as despot seeks to prevent coup

On Sunday, Belarus said just under 9,000 Russian troops would be stationed in the country.

The Defence Ministry said they were needed to help protect the country’s borders.

Valeriy Revenko, head of the Defence Ministry’s international military cooperation department, wrote on Twitter: “The first troop trains with Russian servicemen who are part of the [regional grouping] began to arrive in Belarus.

“The relocation will take several days.

“The total number will be a little less than 9,000 people.”


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