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Russians furious with Putin after Kremlin sends rapists to defend borders

Footage allegedly shows Voronezh in Russia ‘under attack’

Russians living close to the border with Ukraine have reacted with anger and concern after the Kremlin decided to dispatch prisoner battalions to defend the frontiers with its western neighbour. Russia’s border regions with Ukraine have come under persistent rocket and artillery attacks, resulting in damage to property and casualties among the civilian population. The attacks have sown fear and panic among local communities, who are experiencing first-hand the realities of being at war, unlike many of their compatriots.

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In May, Russian rebels from the Freedom Legion and Volunteer Corps launched daring cross-border raids, which succeeded at one stage in capturing as many as ten settlements.

The Kremlin has responded to these incursions by beefing up its border forces with whatever reserves it has at its disposal.

As most operational units have been committed to Ukraine, the Russian military has turned to prisoner battalions as a solution to the security problem.

One such battalion is Storm Z, which was created on the same model as that of the Wagner private militia.

Members of the unit are recruited from Russian prisons, motivated by the prospect of reduced sentences and earnings of USD 2000 (£1,528) per month.

This wage is almost double that of the average salary paid out to Russians, which is around USD 1,130 (£863).

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Many of the convicts are violent criminals, and number among them murderers and rapists.

The Ukrainian Resistance Centre (URC) said Storm Z detachments seconded to the 1st Guards Tank Army had been spotted arriving in the village of Spiridonov Buda, Bryansk province.

The village is located about 12 miles from the border with Ukraine and three miles from the Belarus-Russian border.

The URC noted that locals in the area were already reporting an increase in crimes and were planning to organise protests.

They wrote: “Sources in the Russian Volunteer Corps report that along the Russian-Belarusian border, in the Russian border areas, there is an increase in the number of members of the Storm Z unit.

“In particular, a new batch of prisoners arrived in the territory of Spiridonova Buda, Bryansk province.

“At the same time, protest moods and dissatisfaction are spreading among the population of Spiridonova Buda due to the threat of a significant deterioration in the crime situation, as numerous cases of robberies and rapes are currently being recorded.”

An investigation carried out by the Associated Press has identified at least seven instances where Wagner-recruited convicts have reoffended on completion of their military service.

In one appalling crime, Ivan Rossomakhin was apprehended by police after stabbing an elderly woman to death in the village of Nova Burets, some 500 miles east of Moscow.

He reportedly confessed to committing the crime, less than 10 days after his return.

Rossomakhin, 28, had previously been serving a long jail sentence for murder, before being drafted into the Wagner ranks.

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