The command of Wagner Group has decided to release home all former prisoners from among the group’s mercenaries. Many convicted fighters are now in hotels in Anapa (Krasnodar Krai), waiting for pardon. IStories found out about this by analyzing the messages of relatives of mercenaries and representatives of Wagner in their private group chats.
“Everyone was taken out in Anapa until the end of the [mercenary] contract, they will not let them go earlier, day in and day out! <...> The whole project K closed [so the system of recruitment of prisoners is called inside the Wagner Group],” — writes a representative of Wagner.
Some may be released even before the end of their contract. “My husband called, he said that all of them will be sent home within a week, the pardon has come. Even those whose contract ends in August — they will still go home earlier,” — writes a relative of one of the ex-prisoners.
Another relative said the prisoners could be released from the hotels by July 29.
The relatives of four mercenaries confirmed to IStories the presence of ex-prisoners in hotels in Anapa [the journalist identified himself as a close relative of a mercenary-prisoner]. According to one of them, all the prisoners will be released from the hotels to go home, and then they will be able to extend the contract with the military group to go to Belarus or Africa.
But first they need to go home on vacation for 14–45 days, a relative specified. She noted that former prisoners live in a whole hotel complex.
As IStories found out, the ex-prisoners were sent to hotels in the village of Vityazevo. These are Relax, Cactus and Calypso hotels. Some hotels even have swimming pools. Prices for rooms in these hotels start from 2.3 thousand to 7.2 thousand rubles per day (≈$25–72), depending on the hotels’ occupancy.
One of the chat participants reported that about 400 Wagner fighters are now living in the hotels. The ex-prisoners are not allowed out of the hotels until they receive pardons and payouts. Some mercenaries have been sitting in the hotels for two months, another relative of a fighter told a reporter. “It's the same [as in detention], only in Anapa,” she said. It is likely that we are talking about mercenaries who left the combat zone before the mutiny — they have been rehabilitated in Krasnodar Krai before.
Former convicted mercenaries must receive documents before being sent home: document on release or pardon, passport, certificate of participation in the SMO [special military operation — it’s how Russian officials call the war], military awards and award certificates to them, and medical statements, a relative of a ex-prisoner told IStories.
Relatives complain in chats that the men lead a licentious lifestyle in the hotels. “The fighters here in Vityazevo are not welcome in Anapa. They go drinking, wandering around, drinking their medals, selling them to pawn shops. How many of them are here [from] Wagner. They disgrace their group! I personally saw two of them at the bus station — drunk as hell. Shame!” — writes a woman in a chat for the relatives of mercenaries.
Earlier the Telegram channel Astra wrote that the mercenaries of Wagner Group occupied most of the hotels in Krasnodar. Now police and National Guard regularly come there, because the fighters organize brawls and pogroms.