Senior Russian prison officials involved in enlisting convicted criminals to fight in Ukraine have been targeted in the latest round of UK sanctions, the Foreign Office has announced.
Arkady Gostev, director of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, and Dmitry Bezrukikh, head of the Federal Punishment Service of Rostov region, are among 22 officials to be made the subject of asset freezes and travel bans.
The Foreign Office said the two men were reported to have worked closely with the head of the notorious Wagner Group to fill its ranks with inmates of Russia’s jails. It follows reports that the mercenary group, which has links with the Kremlin, were recruiting murderers and rapists from Africa to fight in Ukraine.
Russian deputy prime minister, Denis Valentinovich Manturov, who is responsible for overseeing the weapons industry and equipping mobilised troops, is also among those sanctioned.
James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, said: “The Russian regime’s decision to partially mobilise Russian citizens was a desperate attempt to overwhelm the valiant Ukrainians defending their territory. It has failed.
“Today we have sanctioned individuals who have enforced this conscription, sending thousands of Russian citizens to fight in Putin’s illegal and abhorrent war.”