“Prigozhin immediately says that 80% will not return from the front.” How prisoners are recruited into Wagner PMCs for the war in Ukraine

Russian version

Illustrations for the text were created by the Midjourney neural network.

The title illustration is a response to the request “convicts are sent to fight in Ukraine”

“500 people went to sign up, only 100 were selected”

Gennady, imprisoned in a correctional colony in the Bryansk region <hereinafter, names have been changed - The Insider>

In the twentieth of July, Prigozhin came to our colony with his people. They were given six or seven rooms, two people each, they sat and talked with the prisoners. I didn't know then who he was. Look, it's a normal guy. I went to talk to him, he was sitting in the first office, some young kid was with him. I had a personal conversation with him, it was only later that I found out who he was. It’s a pity that I didn’t understand right away: I had to ask for help.

Drawing of a neural network on the topic "Putin's cook meets with convicts"

There was no coercion. On the contrary, many people do not take. They take only those who are not afraid, and adequate. Do not take rapists and "offended". They speak very politely, there are no complaints against them. They asked me: “Why do you need this?”, And I say: “I watched Zelensky release these convicts who mock people. I'm going to wet them. I am not interested in Putins and Zelenskys, war is war. And those who mock women and children, I will bomb them.” They honored the case, they say: "You will pass the polygraph and go."

After the conversation, a piece of paper is signed stating that I do not disclose the process of release and give my voluntary consent to participate in the military operation in Ukraine. We also wrote a petition for pardon.

They promised a contract, monthly payments (230,000 rubles a month), the removal of all convictions after six months of participation in a special operation. But they immediately say that out of 100%, about 80% will not return. They enter the data of relatives and addresses into the computer, ask whether they are provided with housing or not, whether there are loans from banks. I think that they will help relatives, because it is unlikely that we will come back. I have a wife and a child who is six years old, and this is my decision.

The guys understand that nothing holds them at the exit, it is difficult to get a job. They themselves do not want to steal and rob. But when you go out, you have nothing, nothing to eat to buy. Where to get money? You're going to rob again. And now the cameras are everywhere - they recognize you very quickly, and again you come to the prison. And like this back and forth, back and forth, a vicious circle. And then they saw a way out for themselves: “If I survive, then I will survive, something in life will change, they will also give money.”

If I survive, then I will survive, something in life will change, they will also give money

People from PMC Wagner do not tell what is happening in Ukraine. But I know approximately, because I communicate with prisoners from other colonies. For example, 50 people were gathered from a St. Petersburg colony and thrown into some Ukrainian village, where there were more than 300 Nazis. They slaughtered all these Nazis overnight, and only three died, 47 returned back.

Now everything is packed. It is planned that from day to day we will be taken to an airfield near the border with Ukraine. There we will change into green clothes, it will take two weeks for briefing, and then we will board a helicopter and cross the border. In my colony, many will go. Almost 500 people went to sign up, only 240 were selected. Then someone else was weeded out after a polygraph. As a result, about 100 people go.

Drawing of a neural network on the theme "Killers are going to fight in Ukraine"

I'm ready not to return. We are adults, we went through fire and copper pipes. I don't think PMC people will cheat. I don't go to war for political reasons. I have a definite goal about the Nazis - I will take at least one, five, ten with me to the next world.

But if those who send us there begin to deceive and lie, then it is dangerous. I know that they have already gathered one and a half thousand people from the camps - and Arkhangelsk, and Bryansk, and Yaroslavl, Ryazan, St. Petersburg. I can contact any camp and zone and find out what is needed. We communicate with each other and put them there themselves if they do some meanness. Now we are just waiting, they can call at any moment - and we have to break loose and go. We are afraid of only one thing, that we will not be taken there.

We are afraid of only one thing - that we will not be taken there.

There is so much hatred in us that we are really afraid not to get there and not fulfill our duty.

“The man with the star of the hero of Russia on his T-shirt openly said that bandits are in power and they don’t give a fuck **”

Ivan, employee of a strict regime colony in the Tula region (IK-1)

On July 24, the boss of the Wagner PMC, Prigozhin himself, came to our colony. At the command of the head of the institution (they called from Zhitna), they gathered the entire contingent on the parade ground, and he began to talk about the war (that's exactly what he said), about the weakening regular army, which could not cope, about redemption with blood.

He promised a salary of 100,000 rubles and a bonus of 100,000 for completing tasks. He spoke about a pardon in 6 months from Putin. What if they kill, they will transfer 5 million rubles to their relatives. That he has an order marked "top secret" from the president to use all possible resources.

If killed, 5 million rubles will be transferred to relatives

Prigozhin said that volunteers were still needed - the most courageous and greyhounds. He called his organization organized crime groups and talked a lot about the advantages of participating in the war through them. Honestly, I thought it was a dream, some kind of surrealism. The man, who has the star of the hero of Russia pinned on a T-shirt, told in clear Russian everything that is happening in our country. That bandits are really in power and that they don't give a fuck about any human rights organizations like Gulagu.net or the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers. He spoke about the losses in the fighting: there will be 10–15% of those killed, 15–20% of the wounded. He said that they did not need cannon fodder, but they needed fighters who would fight.

Drawing of a neural network on the topic "Putin is looking for soldiers in the zone"

In general, all this sounded from his lips very beautifully and confidently. And the worst thing is that about 300 people out of 1,300 serving their sentences went to sign up. And what’s even more scary is that, according to the information of the person who accompanied them, next time they will come and will pick it up not by agreement, but by lists.

“Preference was given to those who had already killed”

Sergey, a prisoner in the correctional colony in the Bryansk region

We were all gathered on the second floor, and then we went there one by one. We were called for a polygraph, for an interview, they asked if we had any relatives in Ukraine. They asked if they had to kill. Preference was given to the 105th and 111th articles <Murder and intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm - The Insider>.

Of the 400 people, 150 were selected. I passed everything, the commission passed, but at the last stage the FSB officers arrived, and because of the tattoos, I did not pass, because I have a swastika. I think that they gathered those who already have nothing to lose in life, but I was not lucky.

They asked if we have relatives in Ukraine and if we had to kill

I really wanted to go. I have no homeland, no flag, no family, my house was taken away from me. What am I to do here? I'm leaving in three years, so what? I would like to leave early.

But now I began to be a little glad that they did not take me. I spoke with people in the wild, they say that no one receives any payments as a result - families are still waiting for compensation for relatives who died in the war. To be honest, there is a meat grinder - just minced meat. On TV they show one thing, but in reality everything is probably completely different.

It also worries me that they recruited mostly HIV patients, but they didn’t take healthy people like me.

“He told us: we are an organized crime group that helps the Russian army”

Aleksey, imprisoned in IK-4 UFSIN in the Tula region

The other day I saw a post that Wagner PMC flies around prisons and recruits for military operations. Recently, they were also in the Tula region, recruiting volunteers. Yevgeny Prigozhin himself flew in a military helicopter. He said that allegedly after 6 months of the war our criminal record would be expunged. And if the prisoners have the citizenship of another country, they will be able to obtain Russian citizenship after participating in hostilities.

Allegedly, Putin himself gave him the go-ahead to take anyone who fits in physical data.

First, they send volunteers to camps in the Rostov region, where they undergo a 20-day training, which looks pretty tough: they are given 3 hours for sleep, 1 hour for food (3 times 20 minutes) and 20 hours of training itself. Then they are divided into groups of 12 people and sent to the front line. And the private military officers themselves, trained experienced mercenaries, go in the second line behind the volunteers, supposedly covering them.

He officially told us: "I'm not afraid of this word - we are an organized crime group that helps the Russian army."

Drawing of a neural network on the topic “We are an organized crime group that helps the Russian army”

“We live in Russia, I wanted to serve the country”

Alexander, a prisoner in a correctional colony in the Bryansk region

When I first came for an interview, a bald man with a star and employees in black, FSB officers, were sitting in the office. He asked me, I told him my last name, first name, patronymic and article. He says: "Do you want to fight?" - "Yes" - "We are good." He wrote something there in his laptop and says: “Go.”

Then the second time he came, there was already a bearded man. I went to his office, talked, and he asked the same thing: “Are you going to fight?” - "Yes". I didn’t even pass the lie detector, he agreed right away and said: “That’s it, you’re good.” They also asked: “A drug addict?” “No, I just drink.” We promised that we would fight for six months and that we would be released if we returned.

We promised that we would fight for six months and be released if we return.

I have article 105, murder. I fully fit, but later they approached me and said that I would not go to war. That someone is needed here too - there is a lot of work. We have three people who were also denied. They didn't explain anything.

I wanted to fight, to liberate all peaceful people, civilians. They kill them there, these Ukrainians. I do not like it. I am such a person. We live in Russia, I wanted to serve the country. I was sorry that they left me here.

The material was prepared with the assistance of the Rus Sitting Charitable Foundation .

American Daily Newspaper

Learn More →