Sunday, March 24, 2024

Some Russian Prison Camps to Be Shuttered as Recruitment of Convicts to Fight in Ukraine Reduces Number of Incarcerated

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 20 – So many Russian convicts are being recruited to fight in the Russian army in Ukraine that Moscow is planning to close a number of camps and prisons in Krasnoyarsk Kray, and a new Duma measure may increase the number of prisoners freed to fight and penal institutions closed.

            The Russian government has cut back on information about the recruitment of prisoners perhaps especially because some of them on their return from Ukraine have committed new crimes, but the size of the recruitment effort is reflected in this decision to close prisons and camps in Krasnoyarsk later this year (

            Exactly how many will be closed has not been formally announced, but for the Kremlin, this is a win-win situation. It can proudly claim that it is reducing the number of those incarcerated and save money by closing down facilities needed to house them, and it can, despite some problems, get more cannon fodder for its war in Ukraine.

            But some experts are saying that such closures are a mistake because when the war ends, Russian society will return to what it was and there will be a need for these prisons and camps, forcing the authorities to reopen what they are now planning to close – and thus this action will cost more than keeping the facilities open (

            At the same time, the Duma has approved a new bill that will likely boost the number of prisoners signing up as well as insulate Vladimir Putin from public criticism that he is releasing murderers and rapists to fight his war in Ukraine, criticism that only increases every time one of those released to fight in Ukraine and then commits new crimes after returning home.

            Up to now, the status of these people was defined by secret decrees issued by Putin himself or, since last month, they were declared “provisionally freed.” Under the new bill, if a prisoner agrees to join the Russian army, his sentence will be suspended (

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