According to the Russian independent media outlet Mediazona that focuses on law enforcement and penal system, the number of Russian inmates went down by 23,000 in just two months, likely due to the Kremlin-backed private military company Wagner Group's recruitment of the prisoners to fight in Ukraine.
At the beginning of September, Russia had almost 348,000 male inmates in the country’s prisons and colonies. It decreased by 10,000 prisoners by the beginning of October, and by another 13,000 by early November, Mediazona reported, citing statistics from Russia’s Penitentiary Service.
The Wagner Group started recruiting inmates in August.
The number of Russian prisoners in recent years has never decreased so sharply even during amnesties, the report reads.
On Oct. 14, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia's "partial mobilization" drive would end in two weeks. From the beginning, the 300,000 figure was treated with skepticism, with Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reporting on Sept. 22 that the actual goal was one million.
The Institute for the Study of War, a D.C.-based think tank, said on Nov. 19 that the continuation of covert mobilization and preparation for a new wave of mobilization will likely worsen the overall quality of Russian troops being sent to fight in Ukraine.