Support The Moscow Times!

Jailed Crimean Ex-Official Asks to Join Russian Army in Ukraine

Former Crimean Culture Minister Vera (Arina) Novoselskaya. Sergei Savostyanov / TASS

A jailed ex-minister in annexed Crimea has asked to join the Russian military and be deployed to Ukraine, a Russian prison watchdog member told state media Monday.

Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky District Court last July sentenced Vera Novoselskaya, Crimea’s former Russian-installed culture minister, to 10 years in prison for accepting 25 million rubles ($270,000) in bribes.

Russia’s Public Monitoring Commission (PMC) learned of Novoselskaya’s request to take part in the offensive in Ukraine during a recent visit to the Moscow prison where she is currently held, according to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

“She told us she had applied for service,” said PMC member Arslan Khasavov, using the Kremlin-approved term “special military operation” to refer to the invasion.

Russia started recruiting prisoners for the war in Ukraine in the summer of 2022, offering pardons in exchange for serving six months on the battlefield. The effort was initially spearheaded by the Wagner mercenary group but eventually taken over by the Defense Ministry in early 2023.

Reports in early 2024 said the practice of presidential pardons has since been gradually phased out in favor of conditional release for the duration of the war in Ukraine.

Russian lawmakers last month passed legislation to allow future suspected or convicted criminals to join the military and 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.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more