Russian Soldiers, Mostly Former Wagner Mercenaries, Under Scrutiny for Multiple Murders Since Returning from Ukraine Conflict.
Kyiv, October 5, 2023: Russian soldiers who returned to Russia after participating in the conflict in Ukraine, with the majority being former Wagner mercenaries, have been linked to a disturbing tally of at least 27 murders since the start of this year, according to a recent investigative report.
The report, released by Russian news outlet “Agenstvo,” sheds light on a troubling trend involving soldiers who served in Ukraine, raising serious concerns about their actions upon returning home. Notably, the majority of these incidents are connected to individuals associated with the controversial Wagner group, but the issue appears to extend beyond this group alone.
As of October 3rd, former Wagner member Denis Stepanov, allegedly set fire to a house in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, resulting in the tragic deaths of two women. Just two days earlier, on October 1st, in Lipetsk, a former private military contractor named Vladimir was accused of killing his wife’s 4-year-old daughter, as confirmed by investigators.
The preceding month, September, witnessed former Wagner group member Igor Sofonov allegedly involved in the murder of six individuals. Sofonov and an accomplice reportedly went to great lengths to conceal their crime, even resorting to setting fire to two houses.
In addition to these chilling cases, the report highlights several other acts of violence in September. Toward the end of the month in the Nizhny Novgorod region, a former Wagner mercenary named Oleg is suspected of pouring gasoline and setting his sister ablaze.
It’s crucial to emphasize that these tragic deaths are not solely connected to Wagner mercenaries. On April 20th, in the Nizhny Novgorod region, a 44-year-old named Alexander Mamaev, who had volunteered in Ukraine, returned home and fatally stabbed his wife in front of their children.
July also saw accusations of murder against a volunteer who had returned from the conflict. Meanwhile, May witnessed three murders, April saw five, and March witnessed two.
Regarding this alarming situation, the Kremlin has yet to provide an official comment. However, President Vladimir Putin, in a recent statement, suggested that Russian prisoners who died in Ukraine had somehow redeemed themselves in the eyes of society.
To bolster regular troops fighting in Ukraine, both the Russian army and the mercenary group Wagner have extensively recruited from Russian penal colonies, as reported by AFP. During a televised meeting, Putin acknowledged the sacrifices of those who died in Ukraine, stating, “They are dead,” and adding, “Everyone can make some mistakes, they once did. But they gave their lives for the Motherland, and fully redeemed themselves.”
The meeting concluded with a minute of silence to honor the prisoners who had lost their lives in combat.