The secrecy of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decrees on the pardon of former prisoners, who were then sent to the ranks of the “Wagnerians” to fight in Ukraine, allows the Russian authorities to hide from the public the inconvenient truth that cruel killers and hardened criminals were released as a result. Many social media users, journalists and experts interviewed by media’s Russian service are inclined to this conclusion.
Recall that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced the secrecy of the documents signed by Putin the day before. At the same time, he did not explain anything, referring to the seal of secrecy, but insisted that the pardon procedure was carried out “in strict accordance with Russian legislation”.
Additionally, Dmitry Peskov claimed that the US was demonizing Wagner’s PMCs.
Previously, the United States had recognized this structure as a “transnational criminal organization” and imposed new sanctions against it on a number of individuals and companies associated with the Wagner PMC and Yevgeny Prigozhin.
As White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, the United States will “work tirelessly to identify, destroy, expose and prosecute” those who aid the “Wagnerians.”
“It’s not worth taking Prigogine at his word”
We know nothing about these decrees of Putin, who exactly was pardoned, under what conditions, etc., noted political scientist Fyodor Krasheninnikov in a commentary to media. According to him, the fact that the decrees are not published leaves wide scope for manipulation and conjecture.
“Most likely the prisoners were retroactively amnestied based on the remains, and only those who remained alive were affected,” he admitted. But these are only speculations. Until the decrees are made public, we cannot say anything more concretely (about the essence of the documents).
Fyodor Krasheninnikov also expressed doubts about the reliability of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s statement that all convictions were erased from prisoners recruited from the colonies, who later fought in Ukraine, in connection with the completion of a six-month contract with the Wagner PMC. This, we recall, was reported by the state information structure RIA Novosti, which at the same time released a video in which Prigozhin congratulated two dozen people in camouflage uniforms on their release. Later, reporters identified a number of those caught in the lens as criminals previously convicted of serious crimes, including contract killings, robberies and drug trafficking.
“In fact, the video shows a very limited group of former prisoners who we were told had been pardoned, and now they can walk in all four directions,” the media source explains. “It is hardly worth taking Prigogine at his word. He will lie, and he will not take it dearly. I think it was purely a propaganda video. At the same time, it is said that they are actually released for a short time, for a short vacation, and will soon be called up for action. So I wouldn’t particularly believe in Wagnerian propaganda here,” the political scientist said.
“In my opinion, they didn’t get out of prison so that they can enjoy themselves freely afterwards. I think they will be thrown into the crucible of fighting again. And if they start to balk, then it turns out there really is no pardon decree,” he concluded.
“Now, in theory, nothing stops them from going to steal and kill again”
From a legal point of view, it is not clear whether there are legal grounds for classifying these documents, argues Ilya Shablinsky, a member of the Moscow Helsinki group, in an interview with the Russian service media. It seems to him that formally those responsible here can refer to the law on professional data.
“But it all looks, of course, immoral,” he said. – Many murderers and robbers have already been identified among the released. If I understood correctly, the presidential administration does not want journalists to continue to seek who is who. And without this, it has recently become clear that among those pardoned and awarded medals, there are at least several murderers, including his own mother, who ordered the murder of an entire family of four, including two children, etc.
The Kremlin clearly does not want to reveal the full truth, says Ilya Shablinsky. “Otherwise we would certainly have been even more horrified,” he suggested. – But even without that, the contingent of elements sent by the authorities to fight in Ukraine is impressive… Now, in theory, nothing prevents them from stealing and killing again. Hypothetically, it is quite possible to assume that one of them will soon return to prison and ask for mercenaries. And so on in a circle. This shows how absurd everything can go, neglecting the law.
Moreover, the situation with the recruitment of prisoners in the settlements indicates that it turned out to be overwhelming work for the Kremlin to lead the required number of ordinary people into war, even for money, says the activist human rights and lawyer.
“We have partly returned to the situation of primitive Bolshevism, when bandits and all kinds of charikovs were socially close to the authorities. In fact, that is exactly what is happening. Therefore, in today’s Russia, opponents and those who vote against war are imprisoned and hardened criminals are released,” he concluded.
At the same time, Ilya Shablinsky believes that US sanctions will complicate the activities of Prigozhin structures in the international arena. According to him, they may face difficulties, especially in Africa.
“After all, they have to interact willy-nilly with various legal entities, enter into contracts with them. From now on, anyone who is in any way in contact with the Wagnerians must beware of secondary sanctions. Probably, members of the organization can be detained on occasion, but I don’t know if it is permissible to carry out special military operations against them, as was the case with Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Let’s see how everything will turn out in practice,” he summed up.
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