Russia-Ukraine war: Vladimir Putin's move has been termed "desperate" by some experts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to recruit at least 50,000 convicts to join the war in Ukraine, according to a report in The Guardian. The recruitments are being done by Yevgeny Prigozhin the head of mercenary outfit known as the Wagner Group, the outlet further said. The report comes on a day when Mr Putin, in a televised address, announced partial mobilisation of its two-million-strong military reserves to defend Russia and its territories, claiming that the West wants to destroy Russia and did not want peace in Ukraine.
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One of the inmates of a penal colony in the Tanbov region, 482 kilometres from capital Moscow, told The Guardian that Prigozhin arrived in a chopper. "We couldn't believe our eyes that he would really come all the way to visit us. But there he was standing in front of us: Prigozhin, in the flesh, urging us to join the Wagner private military group and fight in Ukraine," he added.
Last week, a video of a man resembling Prigozhin went viral on social media. The New York Times carried a report on it, saying that the Wagner Group leader explained to Russian convicts how they could earn their freedom by fighting in Ukraine.
The Guardian report said 120 inmates signed up and are now fighting in Ukraine after one-week training.
All prisoners were promised a presidential pardon after six months and a salary of 100,000 rubles (1,400 pounds) a month, the report further said.
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Prigozhin told the inmates that they were recruiting prisoners of all backgrounds, and these included serial killers "at least one cannibal", The Daily Beast said. Quoting an expert, the outlet claimed that Prigozhin has already sent more than 3,000 inmates to Ukraine.
The prison-enlistment trips started in at least June, the report further said.