The Russian Duma is about to pass amendments that would introduce penalties for discrediting volunteers fighting in Ukraine. This happens at the request of Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Wagner military group. He demands to ban spreading any negative information about his mercenaries, including their prison records. Vedomosti reported on the amendments on February 8.
The Duma has prepared amendments to the Administrative and Criminal Codes responding to an appeal from Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Wagner PMC. He has asked to stop bad press about his troops, especially their "past offenses.” According to Prigozhin, journalists intentionally make "defenders of Russia" look like "villains and criminals.” He demands sentencing “slanderers” to five years in prison.
The new amendments will prohibit journalists from even mentioning the fact that the convicts have served time in prison. Discrediting Wagner troops and publishing “fakes” about them will also be prohibited.
The first group of prisoners from Wagner Group returned from Ukraine in early 2023. Their criminal records had been expunged. Russian journalists have investigated the crimes that had brought them behind bars, before being recruited by Wagner. For example, one of them, according to the "Agency," was convicted for killing his grandmother, a World War II veteran, in 2014. Another killed a family with two children.