Russian convicts are reportedly being forcibly recruited into the military on mass as the Kremlin looks to clear out prison camps amid a fresh wave of mobilisation.
Prisoners have been chosen to fill the ranks of the Russian military’s news “Storm-Z” assault units which have been formed following the disbandment of the Wagner mercenary group’s penal battalions which have bee used to brutal effect in Ukraine.
Unlike Wagner’s voluntary prisoner recruiting, this plan appears to incorporate mandatory measures.
Prison camps in the regions of Novosibirsk, Saratov, Lipetsk, Voronezh, Rostov, Tomsk and Nizhny Novgorod have reportedly been chosen for the upcoming recruitment campaign.
Gulagu.net, an organisation working for the rights of Russian prisoners, has been recording indicators pointing to an impending or ongoing large-scale deployment of inmates for several weeks.
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This development follows amendments to Russian legislation governing “conscription and military service” and “mobilisation training” made in June.
This marks the first time that criminals in Russia who are currently serving sentences have been identified as eligible for mobilisation.
Under the mobilisation plan, the prisoners’ sentences are set to end once they have completed their military service.
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According to Gulagu.net, over a thousand detainees are sent to the frontlines on a daily basis. According to the organisation, jail authorities appear to be reducing their food supplies in anticipation of the influx of more criminals being sent out.
Gulagu.net also reports that in addition to the well-known Storm Z unit, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD) has established a new punitive unit known as ‘North Z.’
This squad is said to have been designated specifically as an attack and reconnaissance team.
The group emphasises that, in a practice reminiscent of the Stalin era, prisoners who attempt to flee are shot, and those who receive injuries on the battlefield are frequently left to die without medical attention.
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Meanwhile, Russian authorities reported that during the night, Russian air defences successfully brought down two drones that were apparently targeting Moscow. This event is being portrayed as Ukraine’s latest effort to strike the Russian capital, seemingly as part of a strategy to unsettle Moscow’s residents and extend the conflict into Russian territory.
The drones were intercepted as they approached Moscow, resulting in no casualties, as stated by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. The Russian Defense Ministry labelled this incident as a “terrorist attack.”
One of the drones was brought down in the southern Domodedovo region of Moscow, while the other crashed near the Minsk highway to the west of the city. Domodedovo Airport, one of Moscow’s major air hubs, is located in this vicinity.
The origin of the launched drones remains unclear, and there were no immediate comments from Ukrainian officials. Typically, Ukraine neither confirms nor denies involvement in such attacks.
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