Screenshot of a video published on January 18 by the RIA FAN news agency owned by Yevgueni Prigozhin. The head of the Wagner mercenary group appears in the center of a group of liberated former prisoners. RIA FAN
Her story does not appear on television, only in a handful of regional media outlets and websites in exile. It tells of the return to civilian life in Russia of some special “heroes” – former prisoners who were recruited by the Wagner mercenary company and released at the end of their service in Ukraine.
Alexander Tioutin for example. This St. Petersburg entrepreneur was arrested in 2018 while plotting the murder of his niece. During the investigation, it emerged that he had already ordered the murder with an ax of a business partner, as well as his wife and children, aged 11 and 15. Sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2021, he left his colony of Karelia in July 2022 to join the ranks of Wagner. Here he is free, back in Saint Petersburg.
Stanislav Bogdanov killed a judge with his fists and dumbbells. Sentenced to 23 years in prison, released after ten. He explained to the independent media (in exile) Holod that he lost a leg and won a medal by teaching lessons in patriotism. Also here is Kirill Neglin, who was convicted of drug trafficking and beating his wife. In court he had promised to kill her as soon as she was released from prison. Free too.
Murderers, burglars, members of criminal groups… They all have in common the six-month service at the Wagner company, which has become one of the pillars of the “special operations” in Ukraine, with tens of thousands of emergency workers. Among the first recruits, they are gradually leaving Ukraine, having a nest egg in their pocket (the monthly salary is 200,000 rubles, 2,660 euros).
Evgueni Prigojine, Wagner’s boss, liked to repeat during his recruitment rounds in prison: “Only three people can get you out of there: Allah, God and I. I just can’t guarantee you’re alive. In reality, Vladimir Putin is the only person authorized to pardon a convicted prisoner. On Friday, January 27, the Kremlin spokesman confirmed the existence of “secret ukases” from the Russian leader.
Evgueni Prigozhin is unusually reticent on the subject – the brand new Wagner Center that opened in Saint Petersburg did not reply to Le Monde on this point, nor on the total number of prisoners released. Because, moreover, these returnees from the front – four or five groups since January 5 – cause considerable publicity, at least in the media controlled by the boss.
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