This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Rustyam Abushaev, the mayor of the Russia city of Bolshoi Kamen who is wanted for fraud, says he has joined Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. Abushaev said in a post on Telegram late on April 16 that he was in what the Kremlin has called Russia’s “special military operation,” and posted a video of himself in combat gear amid the ruins of a residential area that had been leveled by fighting. His claims could not be independently verified. Some analysts have said that, in addition to recruiting prisoners to fight in its war against Ukraine, Russia has also recruited those being held in pretrial detention centers who face criminal charges.