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Crime rate in Russia rises due to return of prisoners from front - UK intelligence

Crime rate in Russia rises due to return of prisoners from front - UK intelligence Crime rate in Russia rises due to return of prisoners from front (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

Several members of the Russian State Duma have recently expressed concern about the threat to law and order posed by former prisoners who are returning after fighting on the side of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, citing the UK Ministry of Defense.

According to the briefing, Nina Ostanina, head of the Duma Committee on Family, Motherhood, and Childhood Protection, said that crimes will increase as these former prisoners are not socialized. She said that former inmates should be under constant surveillance by law enforcement agencies and that society needs to be protected from such individuals. She emphasized the urgent need for legislation.

Furthermore, Duma Deputy Maksim Ivanov also warned that crime rates could rise once people return from the war.

According to British intelligence, Russia has been recruiting prisoners for its armed forces since at least July 2022. This practice was initiated by the former head of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prisoners' sentences are commuted in exchange for fighting in Ukraine, with many dying on the front lines. Aleksei Zhuravlyov, First Deputy Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, stated that prisoners sent to fight in Ukraine should not be allowed to return to Russia until victory in the war with Ukraine is achieved.

The Russian General Prosecutor's Office stopped publishing official crime statistics from January 1, 2023, likely due in part to a possible increase in violent crimes committed by former prisoners who returned from the war in Ukraine, the briefing notes. Independent Russian media outlet Verstka reported in April 2024 that at least 107 Russians had been killed and another 100 seriously injured by people returning from the front.

"The recruitment of prisoners into the Russian Armed Forces and the implications for Russian communities when they are released is a practice and a risk that the Russian Government is prepared to take to maintain its war in Ukraine," the UK Ministry of Defense said.

Earlier, British intelligence reported that Yevgeny Prigozhin pioneered the practice of recruiting prisoners for the war. This practice was then adopted by the Russian Ministry of Defense. Since February 2022, the overall number of prisoners in Russia has decreased by at least 150,000 people. Most of these prisoners were released in exchange for agreeing to fight.