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From bribes to bullets: Ex-Russian mayor swaps prison for Ukraine war

From bribes to bullets: Ex-Russian mayor swaps prison for Ukraine war

From bribes to bullets: Ex-Russian mayor swaps prison for Ukraine war

Former mayor of Vladivostok, Russia

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  • Former Russian mayor was sentenced to 12 years.
  • Many Russian convicts joined the war with a promise.
  • Defense ministry now directly recruiting convicts.
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Following his 12-year prison sentence for corruption, the former mayor of Vladivostok, Russia, enrolled in the armed forces and left for the front lines, according to a report published on Sunday in the Kommersant newspaper, which quoted the mayor’s attorney.

The former mayor of Vladivostok, Oleg Gumenyuk, received a 12-year prison sentence last year for accepting bribes totaling 38 million roubles ($432,000). He was mayor from 2018 to 2021, when he resigned in the face of intense criticism of his performance from federal and municipal authorities.

“According to an order issued to Gumenyuk, he was supposed to report to his military unit on December 22,” Kommersant cited Gumenyuk’s lawyer Andrei Kitaev as saying. Kitaev could not be reached for immediate comment.

With the promise of mercy for those who survive their tours at the front, tens of thousands of Russian convicts willingly served in Ukraine.

Kommersant revealed in December that St Petersburg businessman Alexander Tyutin, who was serving a 23-year term for organizing contract killings prior to enlisting in the Ukrainian military, had been arrested again on suspicion of arranging additional killings.

The Wagner mercenary group, whose commander Yevgeny Prigozhin was murdered in an August 2023 plane crash following a failed insurrection against Russia’s military leadership in June, was the group that initially pioneered prisoner recruitment.

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Since then, Russia’s defense ministry has embraced the strategy, using a portion of the prisoner volunteers it recruits straight from jails to construct its Storm-Z forces.

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