NewsRussia passes bills allowing prisoners to fight in Ukraine, stirs controversy

Russia passes bills allowing prisoners to fight in Ukraine, stirs controversy

Another batch of rapists is heading to the front. The Russian Duma has adopted a law.
Another batch of rapists is heading to the front. The Russian Duma has adopted a law.
Images source: © TG

10:52 AM EDT, March 19, 2024

The Russian State Duma has passed two bills in their final reading that permit prisoners to be released from their sentences on the condition they sign a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense. This decision potentially sends thousands of individuals, including those convicted of rape, to the front lines.

"Now, those under investigation or already convicted of minor and moderate offenses can sign contracts with the defense ministry during mobilization, states of war, and war," reports The Moscow Times.

New legislation allows certain criminals to join the front

This legislation excludes individuals convicted of serious child sexual abuse offenses. "However, those found guilty of raping adults may be released in exchange for contract signing," we learn.

Individuals found guilty of extremism, terrorism, sabotage, inciting separatism, and treason are also ineligible for this program. Independent Russian media have raised concerns for months about the issues posed by criminals returning from the front after completing their contracts.

Rising concern as offenders return to Russia

In 2023, Russia witnessed its highest spike in severe and particularly severe crimes in over a decade. The Ministry of Internal Affairs initiated over 579,000 cases related to such crimes, reports The Moscow Times, citing official data.

As highlighted by the opposition, severe crimes are those punishable by up to 15 years in prison, including murders, rapes, human trafficking, espionage, and treason. Moscow and its surrounding region recorded the highest numbers, with notable increases also in the Krasnodar Territory and the Belgorod region near Ukraine.

An alarming spike in severe criminal activities

According to the Werstka portal, the actual number of crimes committed by pardoned individuals is clearly underreported.

"Security services often omit the involvement of these individuals in the war in Ukraine or their criminal past. Official court documents cannot disclose any presidential pardons of repeat offenders," reports indicate.

Research by the "Violence.net" portal shows the two-year conflict with Ukraine has significantly worsened violence within Russia.

The aftermath of war: Returnees from the front

Anna Rivina, head of a related center, suggests the reported increase in statistics is just the beginning, indicating that the war considerably skews the data, discouraging victims from reporting crimes to the police.

Open-source data reveals that returnees from Ukraine have been responsible for 51 murders in Russia, with thousands of other violent crimes, including beatings, rapes, and robberies.

The center recounts several incidents, including a former Wagner mercenary who murdered two women in the Kuban and mass murders in Karelia by a former mercenary and his accomplice, resulting in six deaths. Another tragic event was a fire set in the Kostroma club by a former mercenary, which claimed 13 lives.

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