Mediazona: ‘Putin’s chef’ Prigozhin visits prisons in person to recruit fighters for Ukraine War

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch often referred to as “Putin’s chef” and the alleged owner of the Wagner Group, a mercenary organisation, visits prisons in person to recruit convicts to fight in the Ukraine War, Mediazona cites convicts.

Two convicts who are not familiar with each other have contacted Mediazona separately. They are held in prisons in Rybinsk and Plavsk, respectively. Their stories were almost identical and told of a man who introduced himself as Yevgeny Prigozhin and appeared visually similar to the man in question.

He offered the convicts to join the Wagner Group as infantrymen in Ukraine with a monthly salary of 100,000 rubles (€1,700), various bonuses and 5 million rubles (€82,000) to their families in case of their “honourable death” in the battlezone or a removal of penalty to those who survive and a Russian passport, in case the fighter does not have one.

The convict from the Rybinsk prison says almost 1,500 people were brought to the prison’s yard to meet Prigozhin, including all convicts and all personnel. They were told that “the WW3” was ongoing and that if they opted to join the group, they would leave the prison forever “as free men or dead men.”

“We are not the official military, we are a military-like gang. Your decision to join the Wagner Group would be a bargain with the devil. You will be obliged to kill the enemies and follow orders. Those trying to escape will be shot immediately,” Mediazona’s source cites Prigozhin.

The Wagner Group, he says, was mostly interested in murderers and robbers, while drug addicts or rapists did not satisfy their requirements. At least 200 men agreed to join.

“I have special authorisation from our President, I don’t give a fuck about anyone, I just need to win this war at any price,” a convict from Plavsk cites Prigozhin.

The oligarch also said he “served a sentence in the North back in the day.” “Prigozhin was sentenced to 12 years in prison for theft, robbery, fraud, and involving a minor into criminal activities back in 1981. The sentence, however, was increased to 13 years as Prigozhin violated his suspended sentence,” Mediazona says. A total of 100-150 men signed up in the Plavsk prison.

After Prigozhin left, both prisons deprived convicts of phone calls with their relatives and said that “phones would not work until a necessary number of people signed up to join.”

IStories revealed earlier that The Wagner Group offered convicts from two penitentiaries in Saint Petersburg to go to Donbas as “volunteers” to “help detect Nazis.” They were offered 200,000 (€3,400) in cash for serving for six months and amnesty should they survive.

The Wagner Group has visited no less than 17 prisons and recruited at least a thousand convicts for the Ukraine War, Russia’s independent media report. Moreover, a prison in Rostov-on-Don has a special training facility where those who had agreed to join the Wagner Group are forced to train for 20 hours a day with short meal breaks. The first group of convicts had already left for the battlezone on 20 July.

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