From the outset of the war in Ukraine, at least 17 Russian individuals convicted of high-profile murders were granted pardons by President Vladimir Putin and released from incarceration, the Agenstvo news outlet reported.
All of these individuals had participated in the war in Ukraine before regaining their freedom, and some of them went on to commit further crimes upon their return to society.
Among the cases that drew significant attention was the release of Vladislav Kanyus, a resident of Kemerovo. In July 2022, he was sentenced to 17 years in a penal colony for the brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend, 23-year-old Vera Pekhteleva, in January 2020.
On January 14, 2020, Vera went to collect her belongings from Kanyus’ home after their breakup. But he didn’t let her leave, inflicting over 100 injuries on her. Neighbors called the police seven times, but no one showed up.
Family and friends had to break down the door hours later, finding Vera dead and Kanyus sitting on the bathroom floor sipping vodka.
The subsequent examination revealed that Vera’s death resulted from a combination of injuries, including strangulation.
The court convicted Kanyus of murder. He received a 17-year sentence in a strict regime penal colony and was ordered to pay the victim’s parents one and a half million rubles ($17,000) in compensation.
The police officers who were negligent in responding to calls reporting the situation were only sentenced in July 2023, receiving probation for contributing to the death.
Kanyus now free after Putin pardon
According to the family of the victim, the killer got out of prison and went to fight in Ukraine. The mother of the murdered woman, Oksana, said that she had seen photos of Vladislav Kanyus in camouflage and with weapons on social networks.
Still, until November 2023, his whereabouts remained unknown, with official institutions sending ambiguous responses to the Pekhteleva’s family requests.
Then, on Nov. 8, Human rights activist Alyona Popova revealed that Kanyus had been pardoned by the President’s decree signed on April 27, 2023, after serving on the front line.
This news set off a firestorm on Russian social media, with people outraged by the pardoning violent criminals.
“Orwell, when he wrote his book, could not even imagine that murderers would become heroes, jailers would become teachers, and religion would support war. The cherry on the cake is the Ministry of Happiness!”
“This state hates women.”
“I am passionate about criminology, particularly stories about crimes, but the narrative of this murder deeply affected me. Prolonged torture, a dreadful death – the news of this man’s release doesn’t just evoke anger and aggression, but rather a sense of devastation, hopelessness, and darkness. This news sticks like a lump in my throat.”
“A sick, out-of-his-mind old man, charging and sentencing people for a blank sheet of paper and statements against the war.”
“It’s a shock. And this isn’t even the limit; it’s beyond impunity. As if you can kill whoever you want, and if you go to war, you won’t face consequences. Disgusting."
“If Chikatilo [the serial killer] lived in our time, I wouldn’t be surprised at his pardon for ‘valiant participation in that-which-cannot-be-named.’ Everything’s going to s**t. How many of these murderers, rapists, and miscreants are pardoned and set free...”
“It’s terrifying. Soon, it will become scary to go out with so many murderers released. I fear for the children.”
“The murderer pardoned the murderer, how sweet.”
Among those granted pardons by Putin are more criminals involved in high-profile, violent murders, Agenstvo reported.
Artem Buchin, from the Perm Region, was convicted of raping and killing 23-year-old Tatiana Rekutina.
Vyacheslav Samoilov, a resident of the Arkhangelsk Region, committed the gruesome murder of his 33-year-old roommate Olga Shlyamina, dismembering her body with a hacksaw.
Dmitry Zelensky, from the Perm Region, strangled his 27-year-old girlfriend Tatiana Melekhina and put her body in a meat grinder.
Vladislav Korobeynikov, based in Obninsk, together with his brother, brutally beat 19-year-old Maria Odd to death, striking her head about 60 times with a bat.
All of them (and not just them) received pardons through classified decrees issued by Putin.
Journalists highlight that the reported cases likely represent only a fraction of murderers receiving pardons for war participation. Some just die on the front, while others’ cases fail to garner public attention.
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