Russian soldiers returned home after fighting in Ukraine – the majority of them former Wagner mercenaries – have been linked to at least 27 murders since the beginning of the year, according to a new report.

Russian news outlet, "Agenstvo", reports that Wagner mercenaries are currently involved in at least 12 criminal cases that resulted in the deaths of 19 people. 

On October 3rd, an ex-Wagner member named Denis Stepanov allegedly set a house on fire in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, leading to the 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, investigators have said.

In September, Igor Sofonov, a former member of the Wagner group, was allegedly involved in killing six people. He and an accomplice reportedly went to great lengths to cover up their crime, even setting fire to two houses.

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In addition to these cases, the report highlights 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 burning his sister alive.

The deaths are not linked to Wagner mercenaries alone – on April 20 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. 

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In July, a volunteer who had returned from the conflict was also accused of murder.

May witnessed three murders, five in April and two in March.

The Kremlin has not commented on the report but President Vladimir Putin last week said that Russian prisoners who died in Ukraine had redeemed themselves in the eyes of society. 

To boost regular troops fighting in Ukraine, the army and mercenary group Wagner have extensively recruited from Russian penal colonies, AFP reports.

“They are dead,” Putin said during a televised meeting, referring to prisoners who died in Ukraine.

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“Everyone can make some mistakes, they once did. But they gave their lives for the Motherland, and fully redeemed themselves,” Putin said at the meeting with servicemen who fought near Ukraine's Urozhaine on the southern front.

After a short discussion with the soldiers, Putin observed a minute of silence to honour the prisoners who died in combat.

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