More than 28,000 violent prisoners including murderers and rapists have been freed from jails to fight for the Russian army in Ukraine, it has been claimed.
The scheme to pardon prisoners in return for six months’ service for mad Vlad’s war has so far led to the release of more than five percent of the entire male jail population in Russia.
Yet the system is being abused with some “wealthy inmates” paying bribes to buy their way out of prison without going to fight, it is claimed.
This has so far netted the team of a close Putin crony along with criminal and prison bosses some £33 million, alleges a new report.
The astonishing 28,000 figure – revealed by the independent Volya Telegram channel – is far higher than previous estimates, and despite the abuse, most inmates are given perfunctory training and then sent into battle.
A video this week showed 400 in a dozen prison vans on their way to training then the war.
The man behind the jailbird-to-fighter scheme is Putin’s ‘chef’ Yevgeny Prigozhin, 61, according to reports.
He was seen this week in a speech in a bleak Mordovian penal colony offering inmates a deal in which they sign-up for six months after which they are officially pardoned by Putin, and free.
But Priogozhin warned they would be shot in summary executions if they deserted.
Prisoners who opt to fight for Putin are sent to the Wagner private army, “controlled” by Prigozhin, which fulfils military orders of the Russian defence ministry in Ukraine.