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Russian Village Plagued by Fear as Former Convict Returns from War and Commits Another Murder

by Sophia Chen
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convict recruitment

Ivan Rossomakhin, a former convict and war veteran returning from Ukraine, has instilled terror in a Russian village east of Moscow after committing another heinous crime.

Three months ago, Rossomakhin arrived back in Novy Burets, his hometown, where his neighbors were filled with dread. Despite serving a long prison sentence for murder, he was released early after enlisting with the Wagner private military contractor to fight in the war.

Upon his return, Rossomakhin roamed the streets of Novy Burets in an intoxicated state, brandishing a pitchfork and making threats to kill everyone, according to eyewitnesses. Local residents expressed concerns, and despite assurances from the police that they would monitor the 28-year-old ex-convict, he was apprehended in a nearby town for the murder of an elderly woman whom he had previously rented a room from. Reports indicate that Rossomakhin confessed to the crime less than ten days after returning.

This alarming case is not an isolated incident. The Big Big News has uncovered at least seven similar instances in recent months, where convicts recruited by Wagner were involved in violent crimes across Russia, from Kaliningrad to Siberia, as reported by Russian media or disclosed by victims’ relatives.

Russia has taken extraordinary measures to bolster its forces in Ukraine, including deploying mercenaries from Wagner. This has had far-reaching consequences, exemplified by the recent short-lived rebellion orchestrated by the group’s leader, who ordered his private army to march on Moscow. Another consequence has been the utilization of convicts in combat.

In March, the British Defense Ministry warned about the potential fallout, emphasizing the significant challenge Russia’s society might face with the sudden influx of often violent offenders who have undergone recent and traumatic combat experiences as their service comes to an end.

According to Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, approximately 50,000 convicts were recruited for service in Ukraine. This estimate aligns with the findings of Olga Romanova, director of the prisoner rights group Russia Behind Bars. Western military officials assert that convicts constituted the majority of Wagner’s forces deployed in Ukraine.

Prigozhin stated that around 32,000 convicts have returned from Ukraine, while Romanova estimated the number to be around 15,000 as of early June. These prisoners were promised freedom after their service, with President Vladimir Putin recently confirming his endorsement of “pardon decrees” for convicts fighting in Ukraine, although these decrees have not been made public.

While Putin claims that recidivism rates among these freed convicts are significantly lower than the national average, rights advocates express concerns about the potential rise in crime as more convicts return from the war. They highlight the lack of connection between crime and punishment, wherein individuals who commit terrible acts can join the war and emerge as heroes, creating a dangerous precedent.

Upon Rossomakhin’s return to Novy Burets, he was not regarded as a valiant soldier but rather as an “extremely restless and problematic person,” as stated by the police during a meeting with apprehensive local residents. Just days after his release from police custody, Rossomakhin took the life of 85-year-old Yulia Buyskikh, who knew him and tragically opened the door for him, unaware of his intent to kill. This incident has left many families in Russia living in fear of such unexpected visitors.

Other distressing incidents include a shop robbery involving a man threatening a saleswoman at knifepoint, a car theft where the owner was beaten and forced to sign over the vehicle to three former convicts, the sexual assault of two schoolgirls, and multiple other

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about convict recruitment

Q: What is the Wagner private military contractor?

A: The Wagner private military contractor is a group that Russia has deployed to replenish its troops in Ukraine. They recruit individuals, including convicts, to serve in combat roles during the conflict.

Q: How many convicts were recruited by Wagner for service in Ukraine?

A: Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed to have recruited approximately 50,000 convicts for service in Ukraine. This estimate aligns with the findings of Olga Romanova, director of the prisoner rights group Russia Behind Bars.

Q: How many convicts have returned from Ukraine?

A: Prigozhin stated that around 32,000 convicts have returned from Ukraine, while Olga Romanova estimated the number to be around 15,000 as of early June.

Q: What concerns are raised about the use of convicts in combat?

A: There are concerns about the potential rise in crime as more convicts return from the war. Some fear that the lack of connection between crime and punishment, where individuals can join the war and be perceived as heroes, could have dangerous consequences for society.

Q: How does the Russian government handle convicts returning from war?

A: Convicts who agree to join Wagner are promised freedom after their service. President Vladimir Putin has confirmed his endorsement of “pardon decrees” for convicts fighting in Ukraine, although the details of these decrees have not been made public.

Q: What are the repercussions of convicts returning to civilian life after their service?

A: Troubling episodes have been observed when convicts return to civilian life after serving in Ukraine. There are concerns that law enforcement and justice officials may feel frustrated and humiliated by the release of convicts without serving their full sentences, potentially undermining their work and discouraging their efforts.

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