Recruitment circle expanded: Russia approves military service for criminals

Circle for recruitment expanded
Russia approves military service for criminals

Tens of thousands of Russians have fled because of Putin’s partial mobilization: In order to fill the ranks of the fighting units in Ukraine, the lower house is now clearing the way for convicted felons to be recruited. That was not actually intended in the Kremlin chief’s decree.

The Russian lower house has passed a bill that would allow ex-prisoners convicted of serious crimes to be mobilized for military action in Ukraine. The new regulation now passed by the Duma applies to prisoners who have been in prison for less than eight years for serious crimes and those who have been in prison for less than 10 years for particularly serious crimes. The recruitment of such ex-prisoners was not provided for in the decree on mobilization for the Ukraine mission signed by President Vladimir Putin in September.

According to the regulations now passed by the Duma, however, ex-prisoners convicted of pedophilia, hostage-taking, attacks, smuggling of radioactive materials, espionage or high treason cannot be mobilized in the future either. The law passed by the Duma must also be approved by the Upper House before Putin can sign it into law.

In mid-September, a video caused a sensation in Russia that allegedly showed the Kremlin-affiliated oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin recruiting prison inmates as a fighter. The video, shared by supporters of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and some media outlets, shows a man appearing in front of prisoners and promising them release if they commit to serving as mercenaries in Ukraine for six months. However, he warns that the war is more difficult than in Chechnya. In the past, the media had repeatedly reported that Prigozchin was to finance the notorious mercenary unit “Wagner”.

After the mobilization in September, more than 200,000 additional men were recruited for military service, the Defense Ministry in Moscow announced in early October. However, there were demonstrations against the mobilization in various Russian regions. Tens of thousands of Russians hastily fled abroad to avoid military service. Putin admitted mistakes after it became known that men who were not actually eligible for the army had been drafted – because they were studying, ill or too old.

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