Ukrainian troops find surrendered Russian mercenaries wearing mystery coloured wristbands – and the reason is chilling | The Sun

FIGHTERS in Putin's private army have been forced to wear coloured wristbands on the frontline for a chilling reason.

New recruits in Vlad's "Wagner Group" have been pictured wearing the colour-coded bracelets after being signed up from some of Russia's most notorious penal colonies.

Its chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef", has been pictured in recent weeks trying to pressure inmates into signing up for the war.

And now Ukraine's military has claimed the plastic wristbands are being used to mark out which new conscripts have serious infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.

The Wagner Group has been mass-recruiting inmates from Russia's infamous prisons, where drug use is widespread and diseases often spread through the sharing of dirty needles.

Ukraine's Ministry of Defence claims that Russia has begun marking these "sick 'fighters' with appropriate bracelets on their hands".


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It said that more than 100 prisoners infected with HIV and hep C had been mobilised from one prison alone close to St Petersburg.

"In order to 'mark' infected militants, the command of 'Wagners' forces them to wear red bracelets on the arm in case of HIV, and white bracelets in case of hepatitis," the Ministry's Main Directorate of Intelligence said in a statement.

Russian conscripts are said to be furious about having to serve alongside "infected" militants, the same report said.

It also claimed that Russian military doctors regularly refused to provide assistance to the infected soldiers if they got wounded on the battlefield.

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In Ukraine, a number of Wagner militants with HIV and hepatitis have already reportedly been detained.

It follows reports that aid workers have sent HIV drugs and abortion pills to Ukraine following claims of Russian soldiers raping Ukrainian women.

More than 50 cases of sexual violence by Russian troops are being investigated, according to Ukraine's human rights chief Lyudmila Denisova.

International abortion providers say they have been inundated with requests from Ukrainian hospitals and volunteer organisations for emergency contraceptives.

Kinga Jelinska, who heads the non-profit abortion provider Women Help Women, told i: "We have heard of sexual assaults and violence in Ukraine.

"We know this from the groups working on the front line where the Russian occupation is happening, from feminist groups who have contacted us and said that they are short on supplies that are related to sexual assault, so emergency contraception, abortion pills, prophylaxis of HIV, for the prevention of HIV transmission."

In order to 'mark' infected militants, the command of 'Wagners' forces them to wear red bracelets on the arm in case of HIV, and white bracelets in case of hepatitis

More than 8,000 Wagner mercenaries are said to be fighting for Russia in Ukraine, as of Ukrainian intelligence reports from last week.

Some 20,000 prisoners have been signed up from penal colonies as of October 21.

The shadowy group has previously reportedly carried out Vlad's dirty work abroad, including allegedly committing war crimes in Syria and parts of Africa.

But now, Prigozhin has stepped up his recruitment drive, in response to enormous Russian casualty figures.

The Wagner Group "death squad" was first spotted in Ukraine in May, sparking fears of increased atrocities in the conflict.

Named after Hitler's favourite composer, the group was reportedly formed by Dmitry Utkin, an officer in the GRU special forces.

But it is now under the control of Putin ally Prigozhin, who got his nickname from his previous role as a private cook for the Russian president at the Kremlin.

Prigozhin has been filmed recruiting prisoners from Russia's penal colonies, promising them their freedom in return for six months on the frontline.

Murderers and sex offenders are among the new volunteers signed up for the war.

One notorious new fighter is cannibal murderer Yegor Komarov, who was arrested after his victim's headless body fell out of his car while he was driving.

In the video shared online, hundreds of inmates at a high-security penal colony in Mordovia line up in front of Prigozhin.

After pledging to give each recruit a signed pardon from Putin if they last six months, he tells them they will buried "as heroes" if they die.

But he warns that any conscript who tries to desert the army will be shot on site.

One new mercenary discovered this the hard way when he was shot dead by the Wagner Group as he "tried to flee the frontline".

Convicted mobster Zaur Aliyev, 47, previously the leader of one of Moscow's most powerful criminal clans, was caught trying to run away and was shot, according to insiders.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a US defence and foreign affairs think tank, has claimed that Prigozhin's private army may be mounting a bid for power.

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"Prigozhin continues to accrue power and is setting up a military structure parallel to the Russian Armed Forces, which may come to pose a threat to Putin's rule – at least within the information space," a report released on Monday by the ISW said.

It went on: "Putin depends on Wagner forces in Bakhmut and is likely attempting to appease Prigozhin despite the fact that Prigozhin is undermining the conventional Russian military."

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