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Founder: 32,000 prisoners who fought for Wagner returned to Russia

by The Kyiv Independent news desk June 19, 2023 2:14 AM 1 min read
Screenshot from a video published on May 5 by Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin's press service announcing the mercenary group's planned exit from Bakhmut. (Prigozhin's press service/Telegram)
This audio is created with AI assistance

As many as 32,000 former prisoners have returned home after their contracts with Russian mercenary group Wagner expired, the group's founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on June 18, as cited by his press office.

Prigozhin added that the prisoners whose Wagner contracts expired had committed 83 crimes after they returned to Russia. He claimed that this crime rate is less than for other former convicts.

In January Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Presidential Office head Andriy Yermak, said that nearly 80% of Russian prisoners recruited by Wagner had been killed, injured, or captured by Ukraine.

In May, Prigozhin said that about 10,000 prisoners, or one fifth of the total number of prisoners recruited by Wagner, had been killed on the battlefield in Ukraine.  

In 2022, the Russian authorities allowed Wagner to recruit prisoners in Russian jails. Under this procedure, they were pardoned in exchange for military service.

In January, Prigozhin announced that the mercenary group had stopped recruiting prisoners. Currently, the Defense Ministry is recruiting inmates from Russian prisons instead of Wagner.

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