1/ Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the notorious Wagner mercenary group, says that he is not currently recruiting anally raped prisoners but wants to create a separate "cock division" to ensure that other convict soldiers do not have to serve with such untouchable outcasts. ⬇️

2/ Prizoghin himself is a former convict – he was sentenced to 13 years behind bars in 1981 for fraud and robbery, including violently attacking lone women to steal their valuables. His prison contacts were invaluable in dealing with a post-Soviet world dominated by gangsters.

3/ In a reply to a Russian news organisation asking about why certain prisoners are not being accepted into Wagner, Prigozhin writes: "All societies have certain rules by which they live. For example, in America it is customary for men to fuck each other in the ass.

4/ In some African tribes, men put their pricks in dried bean plant shells, and in Japan it is customary to bend over the body as a sign of respect. Everyone has their own rules.

5/ Prison rules, on the other hand, state that one should not shake hands with persons of low social status (in the camp jargon, "cocks", "offended", "lowered", "forced", "crests"), take any items from them to use, sleep with them in the same passage or on the same bunk.

6/ In other words, all the above-mentioned acts are "dirty", it is shameful to do them. The rest of the inmates all socialize together and live in one society, while the "cocks" are separate.

7/ During combat operations it is extremely difficult to separate these categories of citizens and, for example, make a "guys' howitzer battery", a "peasants' reconnaissance company" or a "cocks' machine-gun squad".

8/ Life in war dictates new conditions and it is not clear whether it is too shabby to feed a "cock" with a machine gun ammunition belt or bandage a wounded "lowered". In order to avoid these inconveniences, we do not take "cocks" into the Wagner PMC.

9/ We recommended the formation of a separate "cock division" for them, which will undoubtedly show high morale. In short, there are no "cocks" among the fighters of PMC "Wagner", and I do not possess information about other units."

10/ This takes a bit of explaining. The terms Prigozhin mentions above are all Russian prison slang, referring to the strict and brutally enforced caste system that has operated among Russian prisoners since Soviet times. 'Cocks' are at the very bottom of the ladder.

11/ Cocks (петухами) are the lowest of the low, literally. They are made to sleep on the floor next to the (open, likely filthy) toilet. A cock may freely be raped by anybody. The other terms used by Prigozhin are synonyms to some extent.

12/ (Note, by the way, that 'cock' has nothing to do with the English slang term for a penis. It's also translatable as 'rooster'.)

13/ 'Crests' (гребнями), the 'offended' (обиженными), the 'lowered' (опущенными) and the 'forced' (форшманутыми) are all terms used to refer to those who have been permanently assigned to the lower caste of prisoners, usually as a result of their conduct or crimes.

14/ There are differences: for instance a 'lowered' may be someone who has received homosexual intercourse, while an 'offended' is a member of the lower caste who has not had homosexual relations. They may also be described as 'pierced' and 'not pierced' respectively.

15/ @kamilkazani has written an excellent explanation of how a prisoner becomes a cock (see below). But it's worth explaining the taboos around cocks, which Prigozhin alludes to.

16/ Cocks and other members of the lower caste perform the dirtiest work: they wash the toilet, take out the toilet bucket, serve the garbage pits, work as shop cleaners, stokers, stokers, loaders, and labourers. They are not to be touched (except when they are being raped).

17/ Taking any items from them is taboo, as is drinking and eating with them from the same dish, or sharing cigarettes with them. They have special washbasins and special spoons with holes drilled in the bowl. They sleep in the "cock's corner" next to the toilet.

18/ They are not allowed to touch anything. If a cock receives a food parcel, other prisoners are not allowed to touch it. They must give way to prisoners from other castes and stay close to the wall. They must not be approached too closely. Talking to them is discouraged.

19/ As Prigozhin suggests, such taboos are not compatible with the demands of military life. He also mentions two other categories of prisoners from higher castes.

20/ 'Guys' are the largest group of prisoners – people who have been imprisoned for relatively trivial offences. 'Peasants' or muzhiks are similar – people who are not professional criminals and are merely serving their time until they can get paroled.

21/ It appears that Prigozhin is importing prison hierarchies directly into Wagner's convict units, with everything that means for unit cohesion and discipline. Yet there's an irony – the cocks' untouchability has so far helped their chances of surviving this war. /end

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