Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stated Wednesday that Yevgeny Prigozhin was visiting his prison in order to recruit prisoners. Yevgeny Prigozhin is the founder of Wagner, a private military company which has played a significant role in the Ukraine War.
Navalny is currently held in the maximum security IK-6 penal prison colony at Melekhovo. He’s about 250km (115 miles) from Moscow. There, he endured spells of solitary confinement and was told by an unknown “eyewitness” that Prigozhin had visited him.
After being allowed five minutes to think about it, he stated that Prigozhin offered pardons for convicts if they lived six months with Wagner. Between 80 and 90 accepted the offer. The date of the visit was not stated by him.
In comments made public by his press office, Prigozhin declined to confirm the visit, but stated that he believed it was right for prisoners to be given a second chance in life.
He stated, “No one can deny a person the right to protect his motherland and defend his family using all means.”
A September footage of Prigozhin was made public. He spent nine years in Soviet prison for theft, fraud and other crimes. In exchange, he offered a similar deal to the prisoner at Yoshkar-Ola (760km (470 miles) east Moscow).
According to Prigozhin, the Wagner Group was founded in 2014. It has been prominent throughout the Ukraine War, especially during a long, brutal battle for Bakhmut.
Navalny is President Vladimir Putin’s foremost domestic critic. He has been a staunch opponent of the conflict in Ukraine and currently serves 11-1/2 year sentences on fraud and contempt charges. Both the Western and Navalny governments claim that the charges are political motivated.
He tweeted that the Russian state was corroding by the recruiting of Ukrainian convicts for the fight against the Ukraine.
Navalny said that Russia is trying to destroy the foundations of law in order to win a future shameful war. He can post via social media using his lawyer and friends.
Prigozhin responded by questioning the fact that Navalny’s supporter had been permitted to leave the country.
He said, “They should all have been gathered together and formed one penal battalion before being handed to me.” They would have all died heroically, I have no doubt.”