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Ukraine war: No more easy deals for Russian convicts freed to fight

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Fighters of a Storm V unite

Russia has been releasing prisoners to fight in Ukraine for more than a year, originally offering them a pardon and freedom after six months, even if they have been convicted of a violent crime.

But the BBC has discovered this deal is a thing of the past. Now, they no longer get a pardon, face tougher conditions and instead of going home early, they must fight until the end of the war.

"If you sign up now, be ready to die," writes a man called Sergei in a chatroom for former Russian prisoners fighting in Ukraine.

He says that since October he's been part of a new type of army unit with the name "Storm V" which convicts are now being assigned to.

"Before you could wing it for six months. But now, you have to make it until the end of the war," he writes.

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