Russians Urged to Keep Kids Indoors—as Wagner’s Freed Convicts Come Home

Reuters
Reuters

Moscow residents are being bombarded with calls from men identifying themselves as police officers who say all children should be kept inside to protect them from hardened criminals the Wagner Group has set free in the country.

That’s according to the news outlet Baza, which reports that numerous residents have complained of receiving the terrifying calls in recent days. They say people identifying themselves as local police officers, and in some cases a mysterious figure named “Major Solovyov,” have warned that convicts freed by Wagner to wage war against Ukraine are now returning from the battlefield and could fall back into their old, violent ways. Some of them, the purported police officers warn, were serving time for pedophilia-related charges when they were set free by the private army.

Parents have reportedly been asked to spread the word around town about the “dangers” of Wagner’s liberated prisoners. Baza notes that several dozen complaints have been filed against “Major Solovyov” and his colleagues—all of whom are untraceable after apparently doing their best to cover their tracks when making the calls.

“He asked me, ‘Do you have kids? I responded that we are not located in Russia. He continued, ‘In connection with the [war], inmates who fought for Wagner have received pardons and will now be free,’” Muscovite Alexei Shichkov told the Agentstvo news outlet after receiving such a call.

The man then “said it’s dangerous to let children out after 7 p.m. and said goodbye,” he said.

Another Moscow resident said her husband received such a call and “at first thought it was scammers” trying to get money out of him, but was then surprised when the caller only warned “about the return to Moscow of Wagner fighters.”

Police are now said to be working to identify the rogue callers and determine if they really have any link to law enforcement. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Kremlin-linked businessman behind Wagner, has previously claimed military officials and others in the Russian establishment were concocting smear campaigns against him to knock him down a notch as he revels in newfound fame on the battlefield.

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But Russian security services are also said to be legitimately concerned about what will happen in Russian society once hordes of freed prison inmates come home from the frontline and try to adjust to normal life.

Prigozhin, in a series of videos and interviews, has sought to portray his prison-recruiting scheme as an altruistic way to allow convicted murderers to redeem themselves. He’s been filmed attending send-offs for the convicts once they complete their contracts with Wagner, hailing the men—many of whom are limbless—as true heroes and patriots.

“Don’t drink too much, don’t use drugs, and don’t rape any broads,” he was seen telling one group of inmates earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Prigozhin called on Russian lawmakers to make amendments to criminal law that would impose a maximum five-year prison sentence on anyone found to have published “negative information” about Russian war volunteers, including convicts.

He lamented that the “defenders of Russia” are too often “presented as villains and criminals” in the media.

But many of the same men he has portrayed as heroes have been convicted of brutal crimes. Alexander Tyutin was sentenced to 23 years behind bars in 2021 for ordering the execution of an entire family in 2005. He was only caught, years later, when he was detained for putting a hit out on his own niece in 2018, 47 News reports.

Investigators soon learned Tyutin was also the mastermind behind the 2005 murders of a business rival, his wife, and the couple’s 11- and 15-year-old kids.

He served only a fraction of his prison sentence before being recruited by Wagner last summer.

Now he’s “legally getting a tan in Turkey” after finishing his contract last month and being set free, 47 News notes.

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