At least 10,000 Russian servicemen tried for military crimes since start of war in Ukraine

Russian soldiers attend the Army 2023 forum, near Moscow, 14 August 2023. Photo: Yuri Kochetkov

Russian soldiers attend the Army 2023 forum, near Moscow, 14 August 2023. Photo: Yuri Kochetkov

Russian courts have heard 10,025 cases against servicemen charged with military crimes since the beginning of 2022, an investigation by Russian independent news outlet Mediazona published on Tuesday has found.

Analysing court data, Mediazona determined that since the declaration of partial mobilisation in September 2022, Russian courts had heard 9,059 cases of soldiers going absent without leave, 627 cases of soldiers refusing to obey orders and 339 cases of soldiers deserting. The cases relate to 10,085 defendants in total, 8,594 of whom have already been sentenced.

Mediazona said that prior to sentences for military crimes being increased, the Russian military almost never pursued such prosecutions against its servicemen.

Mediazona and BBC News Russian reported earlier this month that the mercenary Wagner Group had recruited at least 48,366 prisoners since the start of the war in Ukraine. The greatest number of mercenary casualties occurred during fighting for the town of Bakhmut, which raged for 10 months from August 2022. The Wagner Group lost 19,500 servicemen in those battles, 17,100 of whom were prisoners and 2,400 of whom were “free” mercenaries.

The journalists have been able to identify 341 of the penal colonies prisoners were recruited from. Some 33,000 came from 227 high-security prisons. Of those 33,000, 21,000 survived Bakhmut and returned to Russia.

Editor in chief — Kirill Martynov. Terms of use. Privacy policy.