July 20, 2024

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Wagner opens up about being used by prison mercenaries

Wagner opens up about being used by prison mercenaries

The motives of prisoners of war in Ukraine vary greatly. Some people rave about the task, while for others it is “hell”.

Wagner Group logo on a wall in Belgrade. – Keystone

The essentials in a nutshell

  • Five inmates for whom Wagner became mercenaries report on their work.
  • One of the fighters signed up out of love for family, the other out of patriotism.
  • Four of the five were wounded, but all were again discussing fighting for Prigozhin.

According to estimates, Yevgeny Prigozhin sent about 40,000 prisoners to his Wagner group and sent them to the war in Ukraine. He freed them six months later. You can see in the videos that some have already received amnesty. Through these and other mercenary records, Reuters was able to identify and interview some of the fighters.

All five interviewees gave very different motives to the work: Rustam Borovkov, for example, signed up with the mercenaries because of his family: “I have a small child, I wanted to return to my family,” he explains. That’s why Prigogine knew he wanted to fight even before he went to prison. The 31-year-old has served six years in prison for manslaughter and robbery and has another seven years to go.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the notorious Wagner group supporting the Russian military in the Ukraine war. – Screenshot Telegram

Yevgeny Kushelev, on the other hand, said that he would have gone to war as a free man in Ukraine, and that he would have volunteered. When he was hired, he had already served most of his sentence, but the convicted thief turned himself in.

Wagner-Soltner raved about the short training

The culprit says they were trained “at a high level” by elite players for two to three weeks. They don’t just give you a gun and show you how to shoot it. “No, they explained everything to me, in great detail.”

During the war in Ukraine, Wagner’s troops fought with Russian soldiers. (icon image) – Keystone

Dmitry Yermakov rates the training very well. The convicted trafficker remained behind bars with four years remaining on a 14-year sentence.

During training, it was already clear who would survive, Yermakov says: some new mercenaries prepared well and asked often. Others, on the other hand, would hope to serve six months and fight as little as possible. “It was absolutely clear that they were going to die.”

Wagner mercenaries want to fight back after being decommissioned in the Ukraine war

Yermakov survived, but was wounded. He describes his last day as “pure hell”. However, time spent in hospital and rehabilitation is counted towards six months of service. Four of the five people interviewed by Reuters were wounded while serving in the war in Ukraine.

Despite the explanation and his injury, Yermakov, like the other interview partners, is considering additional work for the Wagner group. Because he sees only limited possibilities in civilian life.

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