Skip to content

Russian Convicts Are Offered Freedom If They Join War in Ukraine

  • Recruiter in leaked video resembles Putin’s ‘chef’ Prigozhin
  • Kremlin struggles to fill ranks amid Ukraine counterattacks
A man recruiting inmates at a Russian prison to fight in Ukraine in an undated video.
A man recruiting inmates at a Russian prison to fight in Ukraine in an undated video.Source: Ivan Zhdanov

Surrounded by inmates in what appears to be a Russian prison yard, a man who bears a “frightful resemblance” to a sanctioned businessman linked to Russia’s most infamous mercenary group offers an early release for those who survive a six-month stint fighting at the front in Ukraine.

Deserting and surrender are punishable by death, the recruiter who looks like Yevgeny Prigozhin says in his pitch for Wagner Group, a private army the US says the businessman controls. The man is seen speaking in a video released this week by opposition activist Ivan Zhdanov, who said it was sent to his group from a prison, without giving more detail.