Russia frees killers from prison to go to war and kill in Ukraine
Her daughter’s killer was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin in exchange for building up arms in Ukraine.
“I thought I was going crazy, I move into this picture and look into his face in disbelief,” said Oksana Pekhteleva, describing the shock he gave his family. “You know what the human psyche is like, the first stage is denial.”
To prevent another controversial move and risk public anger ahead of next year’s presidential elections, the Russian military has increasingly relied on prison recruitment to bolster its ranks. , a technique pioneered by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the late Wagner Group mercenary leader.
According to rights activists, the Russian Ministry of Defense has recruited up to 100,000 people this year by scouring prison colonies and offering to cut years off the sentences of people convicted of certain crimes most terrible in the country.
Just days after Kanyus’ pardon made headlines, news broke that a former police officer convicted of her role in the murder of prominent journalist Anna Politkovskaya had been assassinated by Putin in 2006 after six months on the job. supply weapons in Ukraine.
Jailed for 7 years, fairy tale artist to Russian court: ‘I’m freer than you’
Former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2014 as one of five men accused of orchestrating the Politkovskaya murder. (Who ordered the killing has never been confirmed.) Politkovskaya’s work, uncovering Russian abuses during the Chechen wars, led to several threats and attacks before she was shot to death in an elevator her apartment building in Moscow.
Khadzhikurbanov’s lawyer told Russian media that his client recently signed another contract and will remain in the army.
Kanyus was secretly pardoned in April. The family of Vera Pekhteleva was not contacted but it was suspected that he was out of prison when they received the picture of him with a weapon.
Before the fall, Kanyus was posting pictures of himself barbecuing on social media. About a week ago, Vera’s father received an official call from the local prosecutor’s office informing them that Kanyus had indeed been pardoned and sent to the front line.
The Kremlin showed no remorse when questioned about Putin’s decision to release assassins to bolster Russian ranks in Ukraine.
“Criminals, including those convicted of serious crimes, commit crimes with blood on the battlefield, in raids, under bullets, under shells,” a spokesman said. Putin, Dmitry Peskov, to reporters.
Alena Popova, a human rights activist who represents Pekhteleva’s family and has long lobbied for a domestic abuse law to be included in Russia’s criminal code, said she is concerned that released convicts would bring a wave of violence back home, demonstrated by their early release.
Popova and her team said they are inundated with calls and messages from people who have been in contact with, or fear seeing, the abusers or killers of their loved ones. . Most cases don’t generate headlines, she said, because people are afraid to speak out.
Affected families fear the consequences as the abusers fight in what Putin has described as a “war for Russia’s future.” The authorities could view any criticism of those who took part in hostilities as criticism of the war or the army – which is now illegal in wartime Russia.
Cops in the trenches: Ukrainian police key to fight against Russia
Some of the most prominent rights activists in Russia, such as Popova and groups such as Nasiliu.net (No To Violence), have been designated as foreign agents, a designation that puts anyone in contact with them at risk and further intimidation. on possible women. seek help.
“All this prevents us from shedding light on the magnitude of this problem,” Popova said. “These people are coming back from the war with post-traumatic stress disorders – they had blood their hands before and then they went to Ukraine and killed more people there – and they see that the whole system is supporting them so that they feel the real truth, a sense of freedom. “
“Just before you reached out to me, I had a message from a young woman who saw her longtime rapist friend stalking her on the street, and taking a bunch of pills,” she said. “And this is just one case.”
Victims’ families have almost no chance to reverse the pardon, said Ilya Politkovsky, Anna Politkovskaya’s son. In a statement published by Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper where their mother worked, Politikovsky and his sister, Vera Politkovskaya, said they saw Khadzhikurbanov’s pardon as “anger against the memory of a person who was killed for his conviction and professional duty.”
“If I’m honest, we suspected this might happen,” Politkovsky told the Washington Post. “When this whole prison recruitment started, I felt that Khadzhikurbanov would really want to go to war .”
“I think it’s unfair and illegal,” he said. “But, unfortunately, we’re powerless and we can’t change anything in this regard.”
Pekhteleva’s family has submitted a request to launch an investigation into the actions of their local prosecutor’s office, which recommended Kanyus for pardon and did not tell the family about his whereabouts. The family had filed a petition to be informed of all of Kanyus’ movements during the trial, a step allowed by Russian law for the safety of crime victims.
“All this has embarrassed us so much and no one wants to bear the responsibility,” said Oksana Pekhteleva. “There is such a strong violation of our law. … Why does our state treat us in such a way terrible?”
The fast track to freedom through the trenches in Ukraine, made possible by Russia’s judicial and penal systems, is in stark contrast to the harsh punishments meted out to antiwar activists. for minor violations.
Putin, re-election eyed, signs law to allow voting in occupied Ukraine
On Thursday, for example, Alexandra Skochilenko, a pacifist artist from St. Petersburg, was sentenced to seven years for replacing a few supermarket price tags with antiwar messages.
Another case was recently brought against him, Alexei Gorinov, a member of the Moscow city council who was the first person to be prosecuted under a law punishing the spread of “false information” about the Russian military after he was attacked Ukraine, even if he is already imprisoned. .
In a statement, Gorinov’s supporters said he was accused of justifying terrorism, as he had made positive statements about an explosion that damaged the Crimea Bridge – Putin’s prized infrastructure project connecting Russia to Crimea, the peninsula that was illegally annexed.
Kanyus, who pleaded not guilty in court, served less than half a year in prison for the brutal murder. Five police officers received suspended sentences for negligence after neighbors said they tried for three hours to get help because they heard Vera Pekhteleva’s cries, but there was no response. By the time a neighbor broke the door open with a crowbar, she was already dead.
“I feel like he will still get what is coming to him, because there is also the judgment and punishment of our Lord,” said Oksana Pekhteleva. “I am not afraid of him but I am afraid that he might one day cheat on another girl, and if he was ever able to do what he did and get away with it, he can torture me just like he did to my child.”