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Russian independent media: Prigozhin’s sends inmates to war, FSO plans to defend Putin with hypnotists and psychics

Russian policeman guards in Alexander garden near Moscow Kremlin in downtown Moscow, Russia, 20 October 2022.
©EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV  |   Russian policeman guards in Alexander garden near Moscow Kremlin in downtown Moscow, Russia, 20 October 2022.

The Russian independent media writes that a record-high number of inmates has disappeared from Russian prisons, after having been enrolled by Putin’s friend in the war against Ukraine. On the other hand, focus groups commissioned by the Kremlin reveal that the population opposes the war, contrary to the Kremlin’s wishes. Russian journalists also describe how generals guarding Putin want to use priests, hypnotists and psychics to bolster his protection.

MEDIAZONA: Within two months, the number of male inmates from penitentiaries dropped by 23 thousand, a record-high number. This happened amidst mass-recruitment for the Wagner group

In September and October this year, the number of inmates from Russian prisons dropped by 23 thousand people. Such sharp declines have never been registered since 2010, not even after the most comprehensive amnesty in recent years […]

The drop in the general population of penitentiaries occurs amidst inmates being recruited for the war in Ukraine as part of the Wagner private military contractor, which operates outside the law.

The Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) has announced a record-high drop in the number of male inmates in correctional centers of regular and maximum security. At the same time, the number of prisoners held in pre-trial detention centers or in semi-open jails, as well as the number of female inmates in detention colonies remained unchanged.

According to FSIN data, in early August Russian penitentiaries hosted 349 thousand inmates. By early September, their number dropped by a thousand, which is consistent with a long-time trend of detention centers reporting a decrease in the number of prisoners. By early October and in early November, penitentiaries reported a sudden drop to 338 thousand and then to 325 thousand inmates, respectively. Overall, within the space of two months, over 23 thousand inmates disappeared from Russian penitentiaries.

Statistics for 2010-2022 regarding the total number of inmates shows that their number has never shrunk that sudden, not even after the amnesty.

In the spring of 2015, when an amnesty was passed in Russia to mark 70 years since Victory Day, the number of inmates dropped by approximately 15 thousand over the course of two months. Another comparable drop in the inmate population, 17 thousand, occurred in early 2020. During the first wave of the COVID pandemic, courts of law issued fewer sentences, including prison sentences.

In 2022, the State Duma did not announce any amnesty nor did it vote any law favoring inmates. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, one person in Russia has been promising inmates freedom in exchange for their participation in the war: Yevgeny Prigozhin has been drafting inmates into the Wagner group.

Preliminary reports on the recruitment of inmates into the Wagner group appeared in July 2022. In September, the process was virtually publicized, and videos of Prigozhin talking to inmates in prisons were posted on Telegram.

A close associate of Putin, the businessman and founder of the Wagner private military group promises inmates amnesty. Amnesty requires a mandatory presidential decree, yet during the war no such official document was published, although they might have been kept secret. In October, Andrei Klishas and Olga Kovitidi, two members of the Federation Council, drew up a draft law on pardoning inmates who take part in military operations, although the document was never approved. […]

Presumably, those who agree to Prigozhin’s terms are transferred to the Rostov region penitentiary. It is unclear how the Federal Penitentiary Service accounts for their subsequent absence from detention centers. Relatives of the recruited are told that their whereabouts remains classified. Additionally, it is unclear how the death certificates of inmates killed in action are officially published.

[…]

MEDUZA: ‘Tired of war in principle’

The Kremlin secretly commissioned a series of focus groups to probe public attitudes about the war in Ukraine, and the findings aren’t encouraging for Russia’s president.

Earlier this November, Kremlin-commissioned pollsters conducted a series of secret public-opinion studies across multiple regions of Russia (including both the Far East and the Central Federal District) probing public attitudes towards the war, two sources close to the Kremlin who are familiar with the findings of the survey have told Meduza.

According to them, the data clearly shows that Russian citizens are “far from optimistic about their future and the future of their country.”

“This doesn’t amount to joining the opposition or a wholesale rejection of the special military operation,” says one of Meduza’s sources, who describes the respondents’ attitude as “indifference and apathy.” “Nothing inspires them, and nothing propels them forward,” the source explains.

The same source pointed out that this mood cannot be attributed entirely to Ukraine’s military successes or even to Russia’s recent surrender of Kherson. Instead, if they accept the evidence, officials in the Kremlin must acknowledge that the Russian people are simply “tired of war in principle.”

Sources familiar with the study and its findings told Meduza that the Russian public questions the reasons for the war more often than before, in spite of state propagandists’ efforts to present the invasion as inevitable and justified. “What are the reasons behind Russia’s military troubles, why is this happening?”

[…]

At the same time, recent quantitative polls conducted in early November by Russian Field, a Moscow-based research company, bolster confidence in the new reported focus-group findings. In the quantitative surveys, just 19 percent of respondents said they expected their life to improve anytime soon. Twenty-nine percent expected changes for the worse, and another 36 percent said life would stay the same. Fifty-seven percent of all respondents admitted to being tired of the war and of hearing about it. (For comparison, in a late July poll, only 41 percent of the respondents mentioned being tired of the news.)

The focus groups also tried to locate people’s particular “pressure points” in connection with the war. They found that what bothers people the most are mobilization, economic difficulties due to sanctions, and the government’s decision to block Instagram (a major tool for small business in Russia).

At the same time, Meduza’s sources in the Putin administration say they don’t expect major anti-war protests in Russia. “People get used to everything,” explained one of the individuals.

Still, this could change if the authorities reinstate the draft, which Meduza’s sources say the Kremlin plans to do in the winter. Just how many more men the authorities will mobilize remains a mystery, however.

[…]

THE INSIDER: Enemy within the Kremlin Gates. FSO gets ready to protect Putin from coup by using priests, hypnotists and political officers

On October 26, armed men with military equipment appeared in central Moscow. Some Muscovites had hopes that a military coup was taking place, but the Federal Protective Service (FSO) hastily announced “scheduled tactical exercises to neutralize terrorist threats and protect key government facilities.” The Insider has found out that tactical exercises are only a small part of the special measures to be implemented by the FSO under martial law. The FSO is preparing its personnel for “a massive ideological attack” in which the enemy will use the media, social networks, religious organizations, hypnosis (!), psycho-generators (?!) and even “everyday household items in prepared packing”. By way of retaliation the FSO generals plan to use counterpropaganda, weekly political training sessions, collective church attendance and the identification of FSO officers with unstable psyche and inadequate reaction. General Alexander Komov, deputy director of the FSO, is directly responsible for implementing the plan. According to a source in the Kremlin security services, General Komov is not only extremely vigilant, but he also listens carefully to the advice of astrologers and psychics.

The Insider holds a draft of the classified “Plan of moral-psychological support of peacetime transition of the FSO Directorate of Operations. The Directorate is one of the key elements in the structure of the Kremlin’s security service; it is not only responsible for the security of the top government officials, but also performs counterintelligence functions within the FSO. The plan is divided into four parts:

  1. Measures to be implemented in direct preparation for the transition to martial law.
  2. Measures to be implemented upon the introduction of the “Elevated” level of combat readiness.
  3. Measures to be implemented taken upon the introduction of the “Military Threat” level of combat readiness.
  4. Measures to be implemented taken upon the introduction of the “Full” level of combat readiness.

During the period of transition to martial law, it is proposed to organize “the implementation of measures for moral and psychological support of operational and service activities” of FSO officers and “the preparation of reports on the moral and psychological state of personnel.”

In the “Elevated Combat Readiness” section, it is recommended to hold interviews with individual security officers, to inform the FSO personnel about the domestic, international, and political-military situation. In addition, visits to the FSO Hall of Fame and History in the Kremlin and an excursion to the Cathedral of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan are envisaged.

[…]

The FSO planners emphasize that the enemy is cunning and insidious and will first of all seek to “reduce the psychological stability of personnel, disorient them morally and make them unprepared for resistance”. Among the key threats they name television, radio, print media, social media, books, brochures, leaflets and posters. In addition, agents of foreign intelligence may engage social movements, non-governmental and religious (pseudo-religious) organizations, and reach out to relatives of FSO officers. Particular emphasis is placed on certain individuals “capable of psychologically infecting personnel and possessing hypnotic abilities.” However, the document does not specify who these individuals are or how they can hypnotize and psychologically infect the well-trained Kremlin guards.

In addition to social media and hypnosis, as outlined in the plan, the enemy intends to employ more sophisticated methods: 1) software and hardware backdoors enabling sound and visual effects, 2) psycho-corrective games, 3) psychoactive chemical and biological formulas, 4) computer psycho-viruses and programs exerting subtle influence on computer operators, 5) psycho-generators, 6) low frequency acoustic generators, 7) advertising products, 8) everyday household items in prepared packing.

[…]

As The Insider found out, FSO Deputy Director Alexander Komov was directly responsible for the implementation of the secret plan, while Reshit Bukharin, a member of the FSO Personnel Department, prepared the final version. Bukharin, a longtime FSO officer, is believed to be a great intellectual within the FSO ranks - he has published several scholarly papers related to the protection of top-ranking government officials. For example, “Personal Bodyguards of the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR (USSR) V.I. Lenin” and “On Certain Problems in the Historiography of the Protection of the Moscow Kremlin from 1918 to 1941”.

General Komov is one of the FSO's top secret officers, and there is very little public information about him. His colleagues call him Stargazer behind his back, as he regularly participates in all kinds of scientific seminars and discussions on space research. For example, last year he took part in the conference “Modern Problems of Remote Sensing of the Earth from Space”, organized by the Institute of Space Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences. A Kremlin security source told The Insider that General Stargazer leads a group of freelance advisers that includes astrologers, black magic practitioners and psychics.

Tags: propaganda , Press review , Independent Russian media , War in Ukraine
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