People pay tribute to late Wagner chief Prigozhin in Moscow. Photo: EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV
Over 190 criminal cases have been opened this year against former prisoners who received a pardon after fighting in Ukraine, Russian independent media outlet Verstka reported on Monday.
Having been recruited as mercenaries directly from jail by the Wagner Group, many convicted criminals received a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin in recognition of their military service in Ukraine.
Charges brought against pardoned criminals include theft, dangerous driving, drug offenses, murder or attempted murder, rape, battery, car theft and fraud, among others. Some of the former prisoners have been charged with several crimes at once.
The majority of former Wagnerites who reoffend avoid jail time and tend to receive suspended sentences, fines, or community service unless the crime resulted in someone’s death, according to Verstka.
There may be many further cases against pardoned criminals that have gone unnoticed, Verstka notes, as police reports often do not always mention if a defendant has fought in Ukraine or if a defendant has previous convictions.