Russians warned to ‘lock up kids’ as Putin’s pardoned convicts return
Zelensky says Ukraine can ‘overcome the evil’ in Russia’s war
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Freed convicts have been deployed to Ukraine by the Russian PMC after the mercenary force’s leader made infamous recruitment drives inside Russian gulags, promising prisoners freedom in return for military service. The first cohort of pardoned criminals is due back from the war sparking reports of mysterious warnings circulating advising Russians to be on guard for murderers, rapists, and pedophiles recently freed to roam the streets.
Unsolicited calls to parents from people claiming to be police officers have been reported warning them to keep their kids close by.
The mysterious caller goes by the name “Major Solovyov” with Russian authorities scrambling to identify who they are.
Alexei Shichkov told the Agentstvo news outlet: “He asked me, ‘Do you have kids?’ I responded that we are not located in Russia.
“[He] said it’s dangerous to let children out after 7pm and said goodbye.”
The Russian paramilitary organisation has been recruiting large numbers of prisoners for the war in Ukraine with reports the group is offering male prisoners commuted sentences and cash to fight in the conflict.
Wagner is also recruiting in more remote regions and penal colonies in Russia.
Additionally, the founder of the group Yevgeniy Prigozhin was caught on camera recruiting prisoners from a Russian gulag for the war in Ukraine.
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The Biden administration on Thursday expanded US sanctions against Russia’s Wagner Group and related companies and individuals for their role in the war in Ukraine and mercenary activities, including human rights abuses, in Africa.
The Treasury and State departments announced the moves in coordinated statements that target dozens of Wagner Group affiliates, including some in the Central African Republic and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the president of Russia’s Kalashnikov Concern, the original manufacturer of the AK-47 assault rifle.
The announcements re-designate the Wagner Group, a private Russian military group owned by a close associate of President Vladimir Putin, as a “significant transnational criminal organization.” The firm had already been identified as such but the re-designations expand the sanctions.
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The sanctions freeze any assets those identified may have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from conducting business with them by adding a number of affiliates to American blacklists.
“As sanctions and export controls on Russia from our international coalition continue to bite, the Kremlin is desperately searching for arms and support — including through the brutal Wagner Group — to continue its unjust war against Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
“Today’s expanded sanctions on Wagner, as well as new sanctions on their associates and other companies enabling the Russian military complex, will further impede Putin’s ability to arm and equip his war machine,” she said.
The State Department also placed 531 members of the Russian military on a travel blacklist for actions that threaten or violate the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.
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