Alexander Raspravin, who served as an “assault machine gunner” with the Wagner PMC, was welcomed as a local hero to relate war stories from his part in Russia’s nearly 20-month war in Ukraine.

The school in the town of Vyezdnoye, in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod Region, 400 kilometers east of Moscow posted an account of the visit on its VKontakte page, Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, on Oct. 5.

The post said how much its seventh-grade pupils enjoyed and appreciated the visit of the soldier.

“Raspravin spoke about living conditions at the front and the importance of receiving the support of ordinary citizens,” the post said.

The post went on saying how “Raspravin spoke about how he had rescued 16 of our troops from captivity, how he himself was wounded and received combat awards for that.”

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The centerpiece of his talk was, what the school described as a “rocket propelled grenade (RPG).”

The social media post said “[The] rocket-propelled grenade was closely examined by our students.”

A photo included in the post showed a student mounting the weapon on his shoulder – which was in fact a US-made AT4 anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) launcher.

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The AT4 ATGM displayed by Raspravin

Photo: Telegram / US Army

The “very model of a modern” Russian hero (with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan)

Telegram channel Govorit NeMoskva reported on Friday that Raspravin had been convicted twice for murder before becoming one of those convicts that had been released under the Wagner recruitment drive in Russian prisons.

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The social media site, quoting Russia’s Mediazona news website, said he had been sentenced to six years in prison in 2010 for beating to death his own grandfather after a family dispute.

Shortly after his release he was arrested for battering another man during a drunken brawl, who subsequently died.

Raspravin was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2017 for this offense, and another where he inflicted grievous bodily harm.

In 2022, it was reported that the Wagner Group had recruited around 50,000 convicts to serve in Ukraine to reverse widely-reported Russian manpower shortages, according to estimates made by the prisoner rights group Russia Behind Bars.

Of these, about half returned safely from the war having completed the six months contract that would result in their sentences being commuted.

In a meeting with veterans of his so-called “special military operation” at the end of September, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that former prisoners who had fought in Ukraine were “an emblematic example of courage and heroism.”

Russian media said that Putin had personally pardoned convicts in exchange for their service and said during the September meeting that those prisoners who had died “gave their lives for the Motherland, and fully redeemed themselves in the eyes of society.”

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However, not all those former prisoners who’ve returned from the war spend their time visiting schools.

It was reported in early October that almost thirty murders had been committed by returnees, many of which were frightening in their savagery.

This should be no surprise as a number of experts say that Russia’s failed mental-health-care system is ill-equipped to address the need to rehabilitate and reintegrate returning, traumatized ex-soldiers.

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