Murderers and drug traffickers will serve alongside Russian troops in the country’s war on Ukraine after Vladimir Putin signed a new law to conscript convicted criminals.
Under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, citizens with unexpunged or outstanding convictions for murder, robbery, larceny, drug trafficking and other serious crimes will be called up for military service, CNN reported.
The president’s move would mobilise hundreds of thousands of those sentenced to probation or who’ve recently been released from prison. However, Russia has drawn the line on criminals convicted of sex crimes against minors, treason, spying, terrorism and attempted assassination of a government official. Those who hijacked an aircraft, were caught carrying out extremist activity or were convicted for illegal handling of nuclear materials and radioactive substances will also be barred.
The decision appears at odds with an announcement made early last week that the Russian Ministry of Defense was halting all partial mobilisation activities after hitting its 300,000 personnel target for recruits. However, until President Putin signs that decree he has the right to keep recruiting more people into military conscription, CNN reported.
'Desperation has set in'
President Putin’s plan to conscript convicted criminals has been slammed as “one of many crazy and desperate measures he has taken”.
“Putin’s scraping the cannon fodder barrel,” one person wrote on Twitter. “It’s a sign of desperation,” said another. “The fact they have gone to conscription is poor enough, now this. Obviously Ukraine is doing very well.”
While others feared for those who would meet this new force of soldiers. “Regular people got mobilised and will serve alongside murderers,” someone wrote online. “Even for Russian soldiers this is appalling, let alone for the Ukrainian civilian population those get unleashed on.”
“Human life is worse than rubbish in Russia,” another added. “Russians don’t care whether conscripts are prisoners or normal civilians, sick or healthy and how many die, as long as they manage to advance 500 metres on the front in Ukraine.”
“Desperation has set in,” someone else said.
Putin humiliated by own troops
While the President continues to declare his war on Ukraine as a success, his own troops are reportedly turning against him.
On Friday dozens of drafted soldiers were caught on camera berating military leadership outside a collection point for the newly mobilised in western Russia, The Daily Beast reported. The furious crowd protested about a lack of food and water and their “rusty” rifles from the 1970s that one soldier said were too “dangerous” to use.
While a military officer tried to quell the crowd, protesters could be heard chanting the Russian equivalent of “c***sucker,” forcing him to retreat.
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