Support The Moscow Times!

Russian Lawmakers Pass Bills Allowing Future Suspects, Convicts to Sign Army Contracts

A Russian army recruitment center in Moscow. Maxim Mishin, Moscow Government Press Service

Russian lawmakers voted on Tuesday to allow future suspected or convicted criminals to join the military, thus expanding the wartime practice of recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine.

“The legislative initiative makes it possible for those who are under investigation, on trial or have been sentenced to sign a military contract,” said senior State Duma member Pavel Krasheninnikov.

The recruits will have their criminal cases suspended or have the rest of their prison sentence converted to a suspended sentence for the duration of their service.

These soldiers can have their criminal records expunged if presented with state awards, according to two bills submitted to the Duma and voted in during all three readings this month. 

The list of pardonable crimes does not include serious felonies like treason, espionage, terrorism and sex crimes.

Krasheninnikov said the latest bills would replace existing laws that cover only those suspected or convicted of crimes committed before June 2023, and thus allow for the recruitment of future suspects or criminals.

The bill needs approval from Russia’s upper-house Federation Council and President Vladimir Putin to become law.

The practice of recruiting prisoners for the war in Ukraine was spearheaded by the Wagner mercenary group in 2022, although Russia’s Defense Ministry took over prison recruitment early last year.

Putin has said in the past that he has personally pardoned prisoners who agreed to fight in Ukraine.

… we have a small favor to ask.

As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just 2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.


Read more