War in Ukraine: in Russia, criticizing Wagner is now punished
The criminal penalties for “discrediting the armed forces of Russia are extended to volunteer formations, organizations and individuals who provide assistance to the armed forces to carry out their mission”, indicated the Duma, the lower house of the Russian Federation. Parliament, on its website. “All those who today risk their lives to ensure the security of the country and its citizens are protected from provocations and lies” with this law, estimated the president of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, specifying that the “sanctions will be heavy, up to 15 years in prison”.
Private armed groups at the heart of the Russian military system
In Bakhmout, the epicenter of the fighting in eastern Ukraine, the Wagner group leads the charge. He notably recruited massively in Russian prisons. But Wagner, who acts with a fairly large autonomy in the field, maintains tense relations with the general staff and the Ministry of Defense, accusing them of incompetence or even treason due to the lack of supply of ammunition from artillery.
His speeches and his absence during the putin’s address to the nationon February 21, already showed “a certain independence vis-à-vis the central power”, as explained to the Parisian Lukas Aubin, director of research at IRIS, specialist in Russia.
The private armed group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, is also present on other continents, particularly in Africa. Classified as an international criminal organization by Washington, the militia is accused, by its detractors, of carrying out the low works of the Kremlin there. Shortly after the start of its offensive against Ukraine, Russia introduced a series of criminal sanctions to suppress any form of criticism of the military.
Renowned opponents and ordinary citizens have been arrested, and some have already been tried and sentenced for their criticisms, such asIlia Iachine, sentenced in December to eight and a half years in prison. Another Russian opposition figure, Vladimir Kara-Mourza, has been on trial since Monday and faces up to 25 years in prison. He is accused of high treason and of having disseminated “false information” about the army.