Russian lawmakers have proposed a bill that would allow the granting of amnesties to prisoners enlisting to fight in Ukraine, according to Senator Olga Kovitidi on Thursday.
"If a convict shows courage and heroism while performing military duty … the court may release him from serving his sentence … or commute the remainder of the sentence to a milder one,” Kovitidi said in a post on Telegram.
According to Kovitidi, the measures wouldn’t apply to those convicted of such recently-legislated crimes as "discrediting" or "spreading false information about" Russia’s armed forces, or for calling for sanctions against the country. People charged for taking part in anti-government protests also would be blocked from receiving amnesties.
Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, representatives of the Kremlin-linked Wagner private military contractor and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) have been offering prisoners deployment or work on restoring and demining occupied Ukrainian territories, according to activists and media reports.
Around 10,000 Russian prisoners, including a convicted cannibal, have been recruited by Wagner, the head of prison-monitoring NGO Russia Behind Bars, Olga Romanova, said in a YouTube interview last month.
The unconventional recruitment drive appears to be an attempt by the Russian military to replenish its forces that have been heavily depleted after months of fighting in Ukraine.