In total, Prigozhin recruited 50,000 convicts for Wagner
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the private military company (PMC) Wagner Group, said that 20,000 of the company’s fighters have been killed in Ukraine. Prigozhin revealed that half of those killed were former convicts recruited from Russian prisons.
In an interview with media technologist Konstantin Dolgov, Prigozhin placed the blame for the high casualty numbers on Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Valeriy Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia. He alleged that the PMC Wagner Group recruited around 50,000 fighters from penal colonies.
Prigozhin further revealed that at the time of the battles for Bahmut, 35,000 people served in the Wagner Group.
“During the operation, I selected 50,000 convicts, of which about 20% died. The same amount of deaths were among those who came to us by contract. Approximately another 20% are wounded, who have injuries that do not allow them to perform combat tasks for three months or more,” Prigozhin said.
At the end of March, Prigozhin reported that more than 5,000 convicts were released on pardon after the end of their “contract” in the PMC.
White House calculations in early May estimated that 20,000 Russian military personnel were killed in the last five months during the battles for Bahmut, half of them being Wagner Group fighters. According to these calculations, Russian forces suffered around 100,000 losses in five months, including the killed and wounded.