The Russian media website 76.ru broke the news on Tuesday that the self-confessed member of a Satanic sect, who had been sentenced in 2010 to 20 years in prison for murder, cannibalism and the violation of dead bodies, had been freed after completing six months of military service fighting in Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

The Russian website goes into excruciating detail about the crimes committed against four teenagers in 2008. Nikolai Ogolobyak, from the Yaroslavl region of Russia, was found guilty of the murders along with seven underage accomplices, one of whom was declared insane during the trial. The killings were carried out as part of so-called initiation rituals for the cult.

The 76.ru report details how the sect started by torturing and killing cats and dogs before resorting to murder. Four teenagers, Anna Gorokhova, Olga Pukhova, Andrei Sorokin and Varvara Kuzmina were killed in two separate attacks on consecutive nights in June 2008.

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Ogolobyak was released earlier this month after being severely injured fighting in Ukraine, according to his father.

“He is not working. He is recovering,” his father said, adding: “It is unlikely that he will be taken to the ‘special military operation’ again.”

The Guardian reported on Wednesday that when asked about this case, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it had not changed its policy of pardoning prisoners in exchange for fighting in in Ukraine.

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Citing AFP, the news site said Peskov told reporters: “Now everyone is studying the pardon lists very closely.

“But I repeat once again, we are talking about certain conditions that are related to being on the front line. There have been no revisions in this regard.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry and the Wagner mercenary group recruited heavily from Russian prisons in late 2022 and throughout 2023 to make up for manpower losses during the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine. Convicts were promised pardons in exchange for as little as six months of military service.

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The practice of pardoning convicts in exchange for fighting in Ukraine was only taken into legislation and approved by Russian lawmakers in June this year, nearly 16 months into the war.

The Moscow Times cited a leading Russian prisoner’s rights activist, Olga Romanova, who said in August that as many as 80,000 convicts had been recruited, with at least 20,000 being released after fighting. It is believed the recruitment efforts are continuing.

As previously reported by Kyiv Post a number of those pardoned and released have committed new crimes after returning from Ukraine. It was reported in early October that almost 30 murders had been committed by returnees, many of which were frightening in their savagery.

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