UN experts warned about the “alarming” recruitment of prisoners in Russian jails by the wagner groupa Kremlin-affiliated mercenary organization, using tactics that violate human rights and endanger their individual liberties.
“We are deeply concerned by reports of visits by members of the so-called Wagner Group to penal institutions in various regions of Russia.offering pardons for criminal sentences to prisoners who join the Group and participate in the war in Ukraine, in addition to making monthly payments to their families,” the experts explained in a statement.
The Group of mercenaries would have allegedly recruited both Russian citizens and foreigners serving sentences in Russia, and would use pressure techniques to do so, through threats and intimidationfor example by preventing prisoners from speaking with their families and lawyers.
“We have information that several recruits have been executed for trying to escape and, in other cases, have been seriously injured. as a warning to other prisoners,” the experts added. “These tactics constitute violations of Human Rights and could be war crimes.”.
They also reported that the recruited prisoners would have been transferred to a center in Rostov, a Russian region very close to the Ukrainian border, to be trained before their transfer to the front. In addition, they would have introduced them into Ukraine without being in possession of their identification documents and having signed a “contract” with the Group.
“We are particularly concerned that the Wagner Group has extended recruitment to prisons in the Donetsk region of Ukraine”, continues the statement, which details that the activities carried out by these prisoners would range from participating directly in the armed conflict to the reconstruction of infrastructures in the territories under Russian control.
The UN experts call on the international community, as well as Russia, to remember that “States have an obligation to prohibit individuals and companies from exploiting the vulnerability of prisoners for their own benefit.”
A few days ago, the head of the Russian company of mercenaries Wagner, the businessman Yevgeny PrigozhinHe warned that if his troops withdraw from Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine, “the entire front will collapse.”
“If the Wagner private military company withdraws from Bakhmut, the entire front will collapse.”, Prigozhin said in a video posted on YouTube, adding that the collapse may reach “as far as the borders of Russia and, perhaps, beyond”.
“The situation will not be good for all military formations that protect Russian interests,” he added.
In a nearly four-minute video posted Saturday on Wagner’s Telegram channel, Prigozhin said his troops were concerned the government would want to make potential scapegoats of them if Russia lost the war.
He stressed that the Wagners, on the one hand, “they attract the entire Ukrainian Army and do not allow it to concentrate on other sectors of the front”.
“And, on the other, we advance and the others (the military) are forced to follow us so as not to be portrayedsaid Prigozhin, considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Wagner boss indicated that his men still do not receive the promised ammunition by the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Regarding the ammunition: on the afternoon of February 22, the documents were signed, on February 23 the shipping orders were issued, but until today not much of the ammunition has been shipped,” he said in a comment. Posted last night on Telegram.
Prigozhin indicated that he is trying to find out the cause of this delay, if it is “simple bureaucracy or treason”.
The mercenary chief regularly criticizes Russian defense chiefs and high-ranking generals. Last month, he accused Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and others of “treason” for withholding ammunition supplies from his men.
(With information from Europa Press, EFE and REUTERS)
Six keys to the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles used by Russia in its massive attack on civilians in Ukraine
Russia attacked Zaporizhzhia again after massive bombings that left the nuclear plant without electricity
IAEA chief warned that Russian attacks affect Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: “One day our luck is going to change”