‘Don’t rape women, drink too much or get up to no good’: Wagner mercenary chief gives bizarre advice to first batch of Russian prisoners to be pardoned after surviving six months in Ukraine
- Prisoners recruited to Putin’s army by Yevgeny Prigozhin in return for amnesty
- Group of men – some injured – have now been released after surviving six months
- But feared Wagner boss Prigozhin also warned them: ‘Don’t rape women’
The boss of Putin’s Wagner mercenaries has released the first batch of Russian prisoners to be pardoned after fighting in Ukraine – offering them the bizarre advice ‘Don’t rape women, drink too much or get up to no good’.
The prisoners were recruited last year by Yevgeny Prigozhin who offered them freedom from Russia’s hellish jails in return for joining the country’s failing invasion of Ukraine.
Having survived six months of Putin’s meatgrinder war, the inmates have now been released with Prigozhin saying the ragtag group of convicts should be ‘treated with deepest respect by society’.
But he also told them: ‘Don’t drink a lot, don’t use drugs, don’t rape women, do not get up to no good’.
It means the start of convicted murderers, rapists and robbers being allowed back onto Russian streets with their sentences wiped out.
The boss of Putin’s Wagner mercenaries has released the first batch of Russian prisoners to be pardoned after fighting in Ukraine – offering them the bizarre advice ‘Don’t rape women, drink too much or get up to no good’
The prisoners were recruited last year by Yevgeny Prigozhin who offered them freedom from Russia’s hellish jails in return for joining the country’s failing invasion of Ukraine
Having survived six months of Putin’s meatgrinder war, the inmates have now been released with Prigozhin saying the ragtag group of convicts should be ‘treated with deepest respect by society’
Some of the men have opted to continue fighting for private army Wagner, which they joined after being freed from Russia’s hellish jails to take part in the war in Ukraine.
Prigozhin, known as ‘Putin’s Chef’, was seen in a video speaking to a group of the men – some of them injured – whose faces were blurred.
‘You’ve worked through your contract. You worked honourably, with dignity,’ Prigozhin said in the video published by Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency.
Prigozhin said the men ‘should be treated with deepest respect by society’ after completing the six-month contracts they were offered to obtain freedom.
Some immediately told him they would return to the war, and he hailed them as ‘born warriors’.
Others – including brutal convicted killers – can go back into society, amid concern they will return to a life of crime.
The scheme pioneered by Prigozhin – a Putin fixer now rapidly turning into a major populist political and military figure in Russia – has led to tens of thousands of prisoners being allowed out of jail.
Prigozhin (pictured placing flowers on a grave) praised the fighters for their sense of duty to the motherland
The men are formally pardoned by Putin, as president.
Prigozhin said of the ex-convicted who have survived six months at the front: ‘It is necessary to understand that they are fully capable members of society.’
Putin sends warship armed with Zircon missiles past UK
Putin launched a warship armed with new Mach 9 nuclear-capable hypersonic Zircon cruise missiles on a mission to challenge the West (pictured on a test launch last year on board the Admiral Gorshkov)
He praised the fighters for their sense of duty to the motherland.
‘This is what a calling is….not be afraid of the enemy, to look him in the eyes, and not to look away,’ he said.
Yet thousands of those released to fight have been killed or maimed.
Prigozhin has been pictured in a morgue with corpses of his fighters.
Critics in Russia say many convicts were strong-armed to join Putin’s war in an abuse of human rights – then used as cannon fodder.
Prigozhin told critics that if prisoners were not fighting, their own sons would be called to the war.
Prigozhin was also filmed with wounded fighters, being sent home, who told him: ‘We want to thank you for the chance for us to start a new life, to become a human from scratch.
‘Thank you for the big and strong family [of ex-convicts fighting in the war]. We understand what friendship is.
‘We respect you very much…
‘We want to fight further and protect our Motherland…’
Prigozhin told them: ‘You became humans already.
‘You were humans. Just life has swung – and swung back….’
Among Wagner ex-prisoners killed were Vadim Medvedev, 23, jailed for theft and drugs offences.
The convicts have been formally pardoned by Putin, as president (pictured on January 4)
Pedestrians look at the destroyed Russian military vehicles at an open air exhibition of destroyed Russian equipment in Kyiv on January 5
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Emergency service workers extinguish a fire after shelling on the Bakhmut frontline in Ivanivske, Ukraine as Russia-Ukraine war continues
Drug trafficker Dmitry Chuikin, 47, was killed in Ukraine seeking to earn his freedom by staying alive for six months.
Another convict Vadim Grigoriev – whose crimes were not revealed – was posthumously ordered the Order of Courage.
Wagner fighters have been at the forefront of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.
The group’s presence has also been reported in conflict zones including Syria, Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic.
In September, a video surfaced of a bald man bearing a strong resemblance to Prigozhin in a jail courtyard, offering contracts to prisoners to fight in Ukraine with a chilling set of conditions.
‘If you arrive in Ukraine and decide it’s not for you, we will regard it as desertion and will shoot you. Any questions, guys?’ said the man.
‘No one gives themselves up,’ he said, adding recruits should have grenades on them in case of capture. ‘If you die, your body will be repatriated to the place you wrote down on the form.’
It was not possible to verify if the man in the video was Prigozhin but his company Concord did not deny it was him.
‘Of course, if I were a prisoner, I would dream of joining this friendly team in order to be able not only to redeem my debt to the Motherland, but also to repay it with interest,’ Concord cited him as saying.
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