A disgraced former Russian mayor convicted over bribery had his prison sentence cut short after signing a contract to fight with Russia’s military in Ukraine, local media reported Sunday.
Oleg Gumenyuk, who served as mayor of the far eastern city and cultural hub of Vladivostok between 2018 and 2021, was convicted last year of accepting bribes worth 38 million roubles (about $432,000) and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
However, he was released after agreeing to bear arms and fight as part of his country’s military operation in Ukraine that started nearly two years ago, his lawyer Andrei Kitaev told Russian news outlet Kommersant.
He said that the politician’s whereabouts were unknown, but that Gumenyuk was instructed to report to his military unit on Dec. 22.
Local officials for the Federal Penitentiary Service in the Primorsky region where the former mayor was held did not confirm the reports.
Photos circulating on social media show a man resembling Gumenyuk carrying a gun while being surrounded by other servicemen.
Russia has gone to extraordinary lengths to replenish its troops in Ukraine, including deploying thousands of prisoners directly from the country’s jails. Inmates who sign up for six months on the frontline are pardoned upon their return.
It’s not the first time that authorities have used such a tactic, with the Soviet Union employing “prisoner battalions” during World War II.
Also on Sunday, shelling continued with a Russian attack on the Ukrainian city of Kherson, injuring six people, the region’s military administration Sunday.
Four firefighters were also hurt after a drone hit a fire station in the wider Kherson region.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian drone strike injured one at the Russian border village of Tetkino, Kursk region governor Roman Starovoyt said on social media.