Putin calls an “organized crime syndicate” to shake up Ukraine’s failing army

Nearly six months into Russia’s bloody war against Ukraine, Vladimir Putin appears to have pinned his hopes of victory on a self-proclaimed “organized crime syndicate,” which is now scouring prisons for cold-blooded killers and using mercenaries to get its fill Troops.

That comes according to several explosive new reports released Thursday by Russian independent investigative news outlets iStories and The Insider, both of which have uncovered disturbing new details about the notorious Wagner Group’s alleged role in the war.

After countless reports in recent weeks that Kremlin-affiliated businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin has personally toured Russian prisons and promised inmates full amnesty if they fight for Wagner in Ukraine, an employee at a maximum-security penal colony in the Tula region has found the real deal Reason revealed behind desperate recruiting drive.

The staffer, identified only as Ivan, told The Insider that Prighozhin personally visited him on July 24 and told inmates that the regular Russian military was “weak” and “unable to cope” with the war.

Prighozin said he received orders from President Putin to “deploy all possible resources” to win the war, Ivan was quoted as saying.

“He called his organization an organized crime group and talked a lot about the benefits of taking part in the war through them. To be honest, I thought it was a surrealistic dream. A man with a star of the Hero of Russia pinned to his t-shirt told us loud and clear what was happening in our country. That gangsters are really in power and don’t care about human rights organizations like Gulagu.net or the Soldiers’ Mothers Committee,” he said.

“I’m not afraid to say that we are an organized criminal group helping the Russian army,” another inmate, Alexei, quoted Prighozin as saying.

Sergei, an inmate of a Bryansk penal colony, was quoted as telling the outlet he had tried desperately to join Wagner but was ultimately turned down and realized it was a good thing.

The recruiters, he had said, said they would look for inmates convicted of murder to make sure they were willing to kill again.

“Out of 400 people they took 150. I passed all the tests, I passed the commission, but at the last stage FSB officials came and they rejected me because of my tattoos, I had a swastika tattoo. I think they accepted those who had nothing to lose, but I was unlucky,” he was quoted as saying.

He went on to say that after speaking to more people outside of prison about the war, he learned that no one had received the promised compensation and that it was really just a “meat grinder.”

“On TV they show one thing, but in reality everything is probably different,” he said.

Both human rights groups and inmates have also raised concerns that Wagner’s previously voluntary recruitment campaign could soon be forced. A friend of an inmate in Plavsk, interviewed by Mediazona earlier this month, said Wagner officials told prisoners they would come back for another visit in two or three months if they “run out” of inmates from the first wave of recruitment. .

According to the independent newspaper Verstka, which also extensively covered the alleged Wagner recruitment operation, the mercenary group has so far recruited more than 1,000 inmates in 17 different penal colonies across Russia.

Long accused by Western officials and investigative journalists of financing Wagner, Prigozhin has denied having any links to the paramilitary forces, a shadowy group that has a long trail of war crimes allegations in Ukraine, Syria and the Central African Republic has left.

According to soldiers interviewed by iStories, Wagner was also used to counter regular Russian troops trying to end the war.

Family members of Russian soldiers and some soldiers themselves say Wagner mercenaries have been guarding makeshift camps in the occupied Luhansk region, where troops trying to leave the war are being held against their will in basements.

Dmitry, the father of a soldier who ended up in one such camp in Bryanka, told iStories his son was alarmed when he arrived and saw the setup.

“They were first told that in Bryanka [military] Sentries had been posted because they resisted all sorts of species [Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups]. And then they saw that all the posts were posted inside the camp. Roughly speaking, the firing zone was inside,” he said.

Dmitry said his son was repeatedly beaten for refusing to go back to the front – and once taken away to be executed.

“They said, ‘Lie on the floor so your brain doesn’t splatter all over the place, and count to ten,'” he recalled. After he refused, they hit him on the head, he said.

Sergei, a Russian soldier who said he also ended up at the camp after telling military command he wanted out of the war, told iStories he saw prisoners being slaughtered by men he identified as Wagner fighters. kidnapped and taken in an “unknown direction”, one of whom was found dead, allegedly from shelling, on the way to the front lines.

He said the troops in the camp, including himself, were first interrogated by commanders and “psychologists” who tried to persuade them to join Wagner, but when that didn’t work they would be handed over to Wagner mercenaries.

“There they really hit the boys with clubs in the basements… They say: ‘We’ll kill you, nothing will happen to us. Nobody knows you’re here,'” he said.

Sergei, who eventually made it back to Russia and filed a complaint with the military prosecutor along with several other troops, said he realized the camps were all set up with one goal: to force troops into Wagner.

Speaking of the second camp in Luhansk where he was allegedly being held, he said: “We found out that this place was labeled as a ‘centre for psychological support for military personnel’, but was in fact just a recruitment for Wagner.”

He and other escaped soldiers say they are now disgusted with the Russian leadership to which they once swore allegiance – and that disillusionment set in almost immediately after many of them arrived in Ukraine and realized what was really happening there.

“Do you understand that we are really the fascists?” Sergei recalled that he told a comrade. “He said, ‘I was afraid to say the same to you, I thought you were going to shoot me. Yes, we are the fascists and I realize that.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/putin-calls-in-organized-crime-syndicate-to-shake-up-failing-army-in-ukraine?source=articles&via=rss Putin calls an “organized crime syndicate” to shake up Ukraine’s failing army


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