On September 14, 2022, the DVAChannel Telegram channel shared a video of Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of Wagner Group, speaking at a prison in the Republic of Mordovia in order to recruit Russian prison inmates to fight in Ukraine for PMC Wagner. Prigozhin told the inmates that if they join PMC Wagner for six months, they will be given a pardon and will not have to return to prison. He said that the war in Ukraine is hard, and he warned the inmates that desertion, alcohol, drugs, and pillaging – including sexual contact with locals – are strictly forbidden. He also promised that any inmates who die during their time with PMC Wagner will buried in heroes' plots whenever possible, and he said that inmates who volunteer to join PMC Wagner but later decide that they are in the "wrong place" will be considered deserters and will be shot. He further explained that the inmates would be recruited to be storm troopers, and he promised that they would receive the same treatment as all other PMC Wagner members.
Yevgeny Prigozhin: "I'm the representative of a private military company. You may have heard of it, it's called PMC Wagner. The war [in Ukraine] is hard, not even close to the Chechen [wars] and others. My ammunition consumption is about twice as high as during the [WWII] Battle of Stalingrad. The first sin is desertion. No one backs out, no one retreats, no one surrenders. During your training, you will be told about the two grenades you must have with you in case of imminent surrender. The second sin is alcohol and drugs.
"In a war zone, as long as you are with us for the next six months... You are in a war zone at all times. And the third sin is pillaging, including sexual contact with local women, flora, fauna, men, whatever. The minimum age that we accept is 22. If you are younger, we need a paper from your next of kin giving their permission. The maximum age is 50, but this number is conditional. I repeat, it is conditional — if you are strong, we will conduct an interview and basic tests, to see how strong you are. Physical fitness is essential. We'll see how strong you are, and then we make a decision whether to take you in.
"The first battle in which inmates fought [in my regiment] was on June 1. It was the storming of the Uglegorskaya TPP. [There were] 40 men from St. Petersburg. [They were serving in] a maximum security prison, recidivists. Forty people went into enemy trenches and cut them up with knives. We had three dead and seven wounded. One of the men killed was 52 years old, and had already served 30 years in prison. He died a hero's death. We pay special attention to those who are imprisoned under Article 228 [banning production, transfer, or acquisition of drugs], solely on the basis of whether or not such a recruit has an addiction. If doubts appear, while we are preparing [for interviews], we reserve the right to conduct a polygraph test and ask questions, to find out how stable the person is. We also conduct careful examination of those who are incarcerated for sexual offenses, but we understand that people make mistakes. Who do we need? We need only storm troopers. Sixty percent of my guys are storm troopers, and you'll be one of them. You won't be any different from us. You will be treated the same, sometimes even with more loyalty than I show to my own men, who have been fighting for years and have gone through dozens of wars. In the fire support forces and in other units that support the offensive, I have APCs and aircraft of several types. There are MLRS launchers, and there are tanks. We have everything you need to attack effectively.
"Those who advance are the boldest, and they survive better. But those who back out and don't understand what to do, they get caught in the heavy clashes. After I tell you everything, there will be an interview. I will be here for a short time, and then these few people will talk to you for two or three hours. They will make eye contact and ask you some questions. The bodies of those who die are taken to the place you specify in your will to your relatives, or will be buried where you specify. All those who die are buried in heroes' plots in the towns where these exist. Those who don't know where to be buried are buried next to the Wagner chapel in Goryachy Klyuch [in Russia]. After six months [of service], you can come home with a pardon. Those who wish to stay with us can do so, and there is no option that you would go back to prison. Those who join but on the first day say that they are in the 'wrong place' will be considered deserters, and we will shoot them. Guys, do you have any questions? After questions, everybody must line up for an interview. Decision time is five minutes. By the time we leave, time's up. After that, it's a matter of luck.
"The issues of assurance and trust are as follows. Do you have anyone [unintelligible]... There are two: Allah and God... I take you alive, but I do not always bring you back alive. So guys, do you have any questions? Have I been clear about everything?"