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Prigozhin, reported head of Wagner mercenary group, has the perfect profile for a member of the Russian mafia: almost a decade in a gulag after being arrested on charges of robbery, fraud and acting as a pimp for teenagers in Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg. He was released from the gulag with the fall of the USSR along with a bunch of other crooks who took advantage of the situation. He was involved in gambling, once again contributing to a perfect mafia profile, though (almost) no one appears to be accusing him of being part of the mafia. In 1979, Prigozhin was given parole for stealing in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad), only to be sentenced in 1981 to twelve years in prison for “robbery, fraud, involving teenagers in prostitution. Prigozhin spent in the colony nine years, then he was reprieved and released from the colony-settlement.” [1] Unfortunately, prison often offers the opportunity for criminals to perfect their criminal skills and learn new ones. In the Soviet gulags violent criminals were given free rein to use often grisly violence to exert control over the inmates. Thus, the frightening origins of the contemporary Russian mafia. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/prigozhin-caterer-to-the-kremlin-and-sanctioned-defense-contractor-with-perfect-mafia-profile-indicted-for-meddling-in-us-elections Prigozhin also ran, and maybe still runs, an internet troll farm, as discussed in our 2018 blog post.

Business In Blood’: New Reports Of ‘Putin’s Chef’ Trawling Jails For Mercenaries” August 10, 2022 11:05 GMT

A businessman known as “Putin’s chef” has now developed “a taste for business in blood,” according to a leading Russian campaigner for prisoners’ rights. Olga Romanova, head of the Russia Behind Bars nongovernmental organization, said she’s seen reports from trusted inmates in at least three prisons. They say that Kremlin-connected businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin had visited personally to recruit convicts as mercenaries to fight in Ukraine. Prigozhin is often connected with the shadowy Vagner Group, a mercenary paramilitary organization, as well as catering companies.” https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-ukraine-prigozhin-convicts-mercenaries-vagner/31981902.html Video at RFERL link or on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/q-EDA5Pz1Is

Russia Resorts to Recruiting Cannibal From Prison Amid Heavy Losses—Report” By Gerrard Kaonga on 9/16/22 https://www.newsweek.com/russia-recruiting-cannibal-prison-prisoners-ukraine-war-conflict-latest-update-1743527 Also rapists in a “separate unit”.

As many as 11,000 Russian prisoners have signed up to go fight in Ukraine for 6 months, in exchange for a pardon, if they survive.
We thieves and killers are now fighting Russia’s war’: how Moscow recruits from its prisons: Inmates describe visits by Yevgeny Prigozhin, reported head of the Wagner group, who is said to offer pardons for those who enlist
By Pjotr Sauer Tue 20 Sep 2022 16.36 BST
Excerpt: “Vladimir, who had only three weeks left of a sentence for theft when Prigozhin arrived, also decided to not sign up, but he said his cousin, who had 15 years left behind bars, was one of 104 inmates there who agreed to fight in Ukraine…

According to Vladimir, prisoners were shown footage during Prighozin’s visit of Russian soldiers “bravely fighting” in Ukraine and were promised that their actions in the country would not be punished.

Prisoners will know they can act with complete impunity there,” said Vladimir, who has since left jail. “Prison turns you into an animal, and there is a lot of hate growing inside you. Their hands will be untied there,” he added

Prigozhin’s personal recruitment of prisoners has made the previously shadowy businessman one of Russia’s most visible pro-war figures…

Inmates said Prigozhin appeared comfortable inside the walls of Russia’s notorious prisons”. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/20/russia-recruits-inmates-ukraine-war-wagner-prigozhin Guardian excerpts Open Licence: “Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd” – “Up to 500 words” in a personal blog along with a link back to theguardian.com.

They said Prigozhin promised those who joined Russian armed forces in Ukraine will get early release in six months, adding that during the military operations in Ukraine, the inmates “can do anything they want with the Ukrainians.”

The inmates also said Prigozhin warned that anyone attempting to defect or escape from the battlefield would be shot dead.

 In the end, about 700 inmates agreed to join the Russian armed forces, which is roughly a half of all the inmates at the colony….”. https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-prigozhin-vagner-recruiting-hundreds-of-inmates-to-fight-ukraine/32015646.html

Prigozhin: Caterer To The Kremlin And Sanctioned Defense Contractor With Perfect Mafia Profile Indicted For Meddling In US Elections