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Killed or deserted: 10,000 convicts remain in ranks of Wagner Group in war with Ukraine

Monday, 23 January 2023, 14:56
Killed or deserted: 10,000 convicts remain in ranks of Wagner Group in war with Ukraine

Out of the 50,000 recruited convicts in Russian prisons for the war in Ukraine, only 10,000 remain in the ranks of the Wagner Group private military company, writes Russia Behind Bars charity fund.

Source: Russia Behind Bars, non-governmental organisation and charity fund; Meduza, the Russian Latvia-based media outlet

Quote from Olga Romanova, Head of Russia Behind Bars: "Our data indicates that 42,000 to 43,000 (convicts) were recruited at the end of December. Now, most likely, there are more than 50,000 of them. 10,000 of them are fighting at the front line, because all the others are either killed, wounded, have gone missing, deserted, or surrendered," Romanova said.  


Details: Romanova states that convicts began to desert from the Wagner Group "at a terrible rate" back in the autumn. Many fled back to Russia with weapons. As an example, she cited a case that happened in early December 2022 in Rostov Oblast. Then, the former convict who deserted opened fire on the policemen, injuring one of them.

Romanova also suggested that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Group, who "promised Putin to win the war", does not keep statistics on the disappeared or those convicts who deserted, simply adding them all to the list of the dead. This, in particular, can be confirmed by the reports that the Wagner Group gives relatives of convicts empty coffins.


On 20 January, the UK Intelligence claimed that the Wagner Group has up to 50,000 militants under its command involved in the war in Ukraine, and thus it has become a key component of the Russian military campaign.

In September 2022, Prigozhin commented on reports about the recruitment of convicts to participate in the war in Ukraine, suggesting that those who disagree with such recruitment send their own children to war.

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