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Prigozhin called for the release of the commanders from the sentence for discrediting the participants in the military operation. The State Duma did not support him

Wagner PMC founder Yevgeny Prigozhin criticized the draft law submitted to the State Duma on March 1, which provides for the introduction of liability for discrediting participants in the military operation in Ukraine. He urged not to apply the document “to the highest volunteer command, including the Wagner PMC”, as well as to the military leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry. At the same time, the amendments in question were drawn up at his request.

In a letter from Prigozhin to State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, a copy of which was dated March 1 published According to the businessman’s press service, it is said that the high command must be relieved of any sanction in order “to ensure the public and responsible exercise of its powers”.

“Otherwise, any public and constructive criticism of their actions may lead to prosecution,” he explained.

At the same time, the Wagner PMC founder thanked the speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament for reviewing the amendments and noted that they “help protect the rights of people who protect Russia’s interests.”

Commenting on Prigozhin’s appeal to Volodin, one of the document’s co-authors, State Duma Deputy Anatoly Vyborny, told RTVI that he did not consider it necessary to support the man’s proposals. ‘business.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to remove MoD command personnel and volunteers, including PMC Wagner, from the bill, although that’s a moot point,” the parliamentarian said.

The amendments proposed by a group of MPs during a conversation with RTVI were also appreciated by military commander Yuri Kotenok. “If there is a war, then to criticize those who are fighting, in my opinion, it is a stab in the back, it is a stab in the back of those who are fighting, I mean, before everything, the rank and file, and the officers, and the command, which is in the forefront, and the supreme high command. confusion, are unacceptable during war,” he said.

At the same time, he noted that there is an opinion – the media, politicians, public figures, bloggers, journalists – about some actions during the military operation, and some questions about the lack of supplies or bad decisions still need to be raised. However, he added, “all of this should be accompanied by some texture, specific examples, not contain declassification of information, not disclose state secrets and aim to correct the situation” .

“I believe that our actions, our words must be filtered under the conditions of hostilities. But this must in no way cause the inactivity or incompetence of the employees responsible for saving lives. Many facts testify that in a number of areas we have a complete mess, including with the provision of all the necessary,” he concluded.

Conflict between Prigozhin and the Ministry of Defense

Yevgeny Prigozhin himself and the “Wagnerians” have repeatedly publicly criticized the Russian Defense Ministry. In particular, on February 17, gunners and combat medics of the PMC “Wagner” checked in a video message was sent to the Russian Ministry of Defense in which they complained about the lack of weapons and ammunition at the front, which is why “hundreds” of servicemen are dying every day.

February 20 Prigogine reportedthat the ammunition problems in Russia remain “unresolved”, and the next day the businessman accused Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov in an attempt to destroy the Wagner PMC. According to him, the leadership of the Department of Defense issues “orders right and left, which say that the Wagner PMC must not only not give ammunition, but also not help with air transport.”

On the evening of February 21, the Ministry of Defense said that PMC chief Wagner’s information about blocking the supply of ammunition to the volunteers of the assault squads was not true. Shortly after, in the telegram channel “Prigozhin Press Service” appeared an audio recording in which, presumably, the businessman himself claims that the “Wagnerites” do not receive 80% of the amount of ammunition required for combat missions. He also noted that at the request of the military prosecutor’s office or military counterintelligence, he is ready to “immediately” provide all requests for ammunition and information on their quantity received.

The next day, in an interview with military commissar Vladlen Tatarsky, Prigozhin declaredthat on the morning of February 22 “no action was taken to distribute ammunition”. Later he published a photograph of PMC fighters who died “due to the so-called shortage of shells”, along with a list showing the amount of ammunition required for one day and ten days and handwritten notes on the number shells they promised to fire. in reality. However, on the morning of February 23, the businessman announced that the shipment of ammunition for his units had begun.

Discrediting Participants in a Military Operation Act

At the end of January, Yevgeny Prigozhin sent a letter to State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, in which he claimed that some media outlets, bloggers and Telegram channels were engaged in “discrediting” mercenaries. According to him, journalists “seek negative information about volunteers, including former convicts, deliberately publish such materials that expose Russia’s defenders <…> in an unsightly light”.

Prigozhin proposed to prohibit any criticism of the participants in the military operation, the publication of information about their past offenses, and also expressed the opinion that the maximum penalty for violation of this law should be five years.

On February 8, Vasily Piskarev, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption, said that at Volodin’s suggestion, together with his colleagues, he had prepared amendments that would introduce accountability for “discredited” volunteers taking part in hostilities. Amendments are proposed to Article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses and Articles 207.3 and 208.3 of the Penal Code. Now they are talking about responsibility for “discrediting” the Russian armed forces and “fakes” about the army.

On March 1, Vyacheslav Volodin, together with a group of deputies, presented the relevant amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Violations. As a punishment, the parliamentarians propose to introduce fines of up to 5 million rubles, or hard labor up to 5 years, or imprisonment up to 15 years.

According to the Chairman of the State Duma, any public dissemination of deliberately false information, as well as public actions aimed at discrediting the Russian Armed Forces, volunteer formations, organizations and persons who help in carrying out the tasks assigned to the RF Armed Forces, are unacceptable.

The second reading will take place on March 2, and the final reading, if the bill is supported, on Tuesday, March 14.

Administrative and penal articles on discredit Russian army and about “fakeabout the armed forces appeared in the Code of Administrative Offenses and the Criminal Code of Russia in the spring of 2022, after the start of the military operation in Ukraine. The first convicted under the article about “forgery” was Moscow city deputy Alexei Gorinov. In July, he was sentenced to seven years in prison. In December, politician Ilya Yashin* was sentenced to 8½ years in prison under the same article. In late February, the head of the investigative commission, Alexander Bastrykin, said that in less than a year, 152 criminal cases had been opened in Russia for discrediting the Russian military and “false” the armed forces.

*recognized as a foreign agent in Russia

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