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Euromaidan Press
18 Nov 2023
Orysia Hrudka

Russia increasingly frees convicted killers to fight against Ukraine – WP

Russia is recruiting as many as 100,000 convicts, including violent criminals, to fight in Ukraine, with some pardoned individuals, such as Vladislav Kanyus, participating in the war after serving minimal sentences for heinous crimes.
Russian military to use prisoners to make up its combat losses in Ukraine
Russian military to use prisoners to make up its combat losses in Ukraine Credit: 1111 (RFE/RL Graphics)

Russia is increasingly relying on prisoner recruitment to bolster its ranks in Ukraine, offering commutations to some of the country’s most violent criminals. According to a recent Washington Post report, as many as 100,000 convicts may have enlisted this year.

Among those freed is Vladislav Kanyus, who was sentenced in July 2022 to 17 years for torturing and brutally murdering his ex-girlfriend Vera Pekhteleva. Kanyus was secretly pardoned in April and is now fighting in Ukraine after serving less than a year of his sentence.

Vladislav Kanyus, a resident of Kemerovo in southwestern Siberia, mercilessly murdered his ex-girlfriend, subjecting her to hours of torture, suffocation, and stabbing. In July 2022, he was sentenced to 17 years. Oksana, the mother of Pekhteleva, was shocked to receive a photo of Kanyus not in prison but in military attire, alongside other Russian soldiers.

Russian convicted over Putin critic’s murder pardoned after fighting in Ukraine

The Kremlin expressed no regret over the decision to release murderers, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov stating, “Convicts, including those convicted of serious crimes, atone for crimes with blood on the battlefield.”

“These people are coming back from the war with post-traumatic stress disorders — their hands had blood on them before and then they went to Ukraine and killed more people there — and they see that the entire system is backing them so they feel an absolute sense of impunity,” WP cites Alena Popova.

UK intelligence reports reveal that Russia is increasingly depending on Shtorm-Z units, initially envisioned as elite organizations for offensive operations in Ukraine. However, these units have transitioned into penal battalions, manned with convicts and troops on disciplinary charges, facing logistical challenges and low support priority, emphasizing Russia’s struggle to generate effective combat infantry for offensive operations.