As of early November, more than 500 Russian prisoners have died in the war in Ukraine.
Source: The Insider based on data of the Ukrainian Non-Governmental Organization Center for Analytical Studies and Countering Hybrid Threats and own calculations
Details: The publication notes that the Ukrainian Center for the Analytical Studies and Countering Hybrid Threats discovered and verified more than 200 letters signed by Andrey Troshev, one of the heads of the Wagner Group, with condolences to the families of mercenaries recruited by Wagner in Russian colonies.
A posthumous medal “For bravery” is attached to the letters, and the documents themselves, which are often published by relatives on social media, are neatly numbered, which makes it possible to draw conclusions about their number.
The Insider managed to contact some relatives of those on the list of the dead. They confirmed the information that their relatives went to war from the colonies and died on the territory of Ukraine.
Based on the document numbering, the newspaper concludes that in less than a month (from 18 September to 13 October) Troshev sent at least 224 letters of condolences. In total, at least 458 prisoners hired by Yevgeny Prigozhin died in Ukraine by mid-October.
“Over the past three weeks, dozens of new messages from relatives of prisoners about their deaths were published on social media. By the beginning of November, their number definitely exceeded 500. The exact number is unknown since none of the relatives posted photos of the awards where the serial number would be visible (The relatives were probably warned that posting photos of the award documents is prohibited),” The Insider writes.
At the same time, according to the estimates of the Important Stories website, at the end of September, the Prigozhin’s PMC hired approximately 6,000 prisoners. At least 2,036 people out of them were taken at that time. This means that by October, the Armed Forces of Ukraine had killed approximately a quarter of the Russian prisoners who reached the front.
At the same time, according to the Center, the total number of mercenaries of the Wagner Group, including prisoners and ordinary mercenaries, who died in Ukraine is from 800 to 1,000 people.
The Insider has posted the names and photos of some of the dead prisoners, whose participation in the war and death was proven with the help of publicly available information. Among these people there are those convicted of theft and the sale of narcotic substances, as well as those who served time for murder. Some relatives of those killed confirmed to The Insider that they were indeed serving sentences in colonies when they were recruited into the PMC and recently died in Ukraine.
- On 4 July, Vazhnye Istorii [Russian for Important Stories, a Russian outlet focused on investigative journalism] reported that Wagner PMC began to recruit inmates from St Petersburg as “volunteers” to join the war in Ukraine. Later, convicts joined the recruitment campaign all over Russia.
- Later, information emerged that almost all convicts from two penal colonies, who had been recruited by Wagner PMC to fight in Ukraine, were killed.
- On 14 September, a video appeared on the Web showing Prigozhin, who personally urged Russian inmates to go and fight in Ukraine.
- On 15 September, Prigozhin commented on the message about recruiting inmates for war in Ukraine; he suggested that the ones who stand against such a decision send their own children to war. “It’s either PMC and inmates or your children”, he stated.