Desperate Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to “recruit at least 50,000 convicts” to aid his escalated war — including serial killers and “at least one cannibal,” according to a leading expert.
Olga Romanova, the head of Russia Behind Bars, told The Daily Beast that some of the inmates her organization has worked with have already been seen in videos from the Ukrainian battlefields.
“Putin’s plan is to recruit at least 50,000 convicts,” she told the outlet, saying that Yevgeny Prigozhin — the head of Putin’s shadowy private army, the Wagner Group — has been touring prisons and promising inmates freedom if they serve six months on the front lines.
Prigozhin, widely known as “Putin’s chef,” has already sent more than 3,000 inmates to Ukraine — including “serial murderers, robbers and at least one cannibal,” Romanova told The Daily Beast.
The latest war tactic was something out of her “worst nightmares,” she told the outlet.
The prison-enlistment trips started in at least June, according to Ruslan Vakhapov, an attorney for Russia Behind Bars.
“Originally, Wagner grabbed mostly those convicted for homicide … But now, their fishing net takes everybody in, including man-eaters,” the attorney told the Beast.
“So far we know of one case of recruitment among Russian cannibals.”
That was just one example of how the “murkiest characters” are being enlisted for the war, Vakhapov insisted.
“I just spoke with the wife of a serial killer convicted in Kostroma. He was supposed to spend five more years behind bars, but Wagner had freed him, so the wife was terrified he might [come back] and attack her for filing for divorce,” the attorney said.
“Pretty much all murderers we have on our watch have been recruited and they die like flies in Ukraine,” he said.
“Out of the first 42 convicts recruited in the first group, only three survived,” Romanova told The Daily Beast.
“Out of the second group of 66 convicts, only six returned, including one who had lost his arm.”
The recruitment drive showed just how desperate Putin has become, one Ukraine war expert told the outlet.
“By arming these goblins and sending psychos and maniacs to the front, Putin shows the weakness of his army, which has been badly losing,” insisted Anton Naumlyuk, founder of Ukraine’s Graty media group.
Wagner Group veteran Marat Gabidullin warned that despite officially being a private military group, Wagner leader “Prigozhin has unlimited authority, he can kick a door to any prison colony open.
“It’s time to look into this phenomenon now, before they start recruiting in orphanages,” Gabidullin told the outlet.