Nina Ostanina, head of the State Duma Committee on Family Protection, has proposed to develop a special bill to provide legal protection for Russians from former prisoners who commit new crimes after returning from the war in Ukraine.

“Law enforcement agencies must take responsibility for protecting citizens from such criminals. It is necessary to establish regular control over their movements and provide them with employment assistance,” Ostanina wrote on Telegram.

The catalyst for this appears to be the recent murder of a 12-year-old girl, Karina Kabikova, in the Kemerovo region of Russia. She was reported missing from the city of Topki on Tuesday June 18. Her body was discovered in an abandoned city center building, only 250 meters from two police stations, the following day.

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The killer, who was named by the Siberian Express Telegram channel as 49-year-old Andrey Bykov, had been previously convicted on six separate occasions for charges including murder. He was released from prison to participate in the war against Ukraine in October 2023 but was captured by Ukrainian forces in December. After being captured he was exchanged on January 31 this year, only to return and commit a new crime.

The source who reported the events to the Russian news outlet RIA Novosti remained silent on how the ex-prisoner ended up free and in Russia saying, “Maybe he deserted his unit, maybe he went on vacation.”

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“Such tragedies will happen more and more often. After returning from the front, these people were not socialized and pose a danger to society,” Ostanina said. 

Last November, a Kyiv Post journalist spoke with Russian POWs currently being held in Ukraine, one of whom is Sergei. He is one of many Russian soldiers who have been promised release from prison, a pardon from the state, and a salary of about $2,200 a month - almost twice the average salary in Russia.

"Our entire 4th company is recruited from former prisoners," said Sergei, who served two and a half years of the seven and a half years he was sentenced to for murder before being recruited into the Russian army.

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According to Serhiy, some of his fellow prisoners have already had their military contracts expire, but they have not been allowed to go home.

"It doesn't really mean anything to them. You have to stay in the army until the war is over," he said.

A report in the Independent news site in April said that in 2023 Russian soldiers serving in occupied Ukraine were charged with more than 20 murders, while more than 100 homicides were committed by returnees in mainland Russia in the same year.

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