An ex-con freed from prison to take part in Russia’s war against Ukraine as a member of the notorious Wagner Group has returned from the battlefield and allegedly burned two women alive, the latest in a long line of grisly crimes to unfold on Russian territory after the high-risk prison-recruitment scheme.
The 32-year-old, identified in several reports as Denis Stepanov, is accused of deliberately torching a home in the Krasnoyarsk Krai to target two women, a 68-year-old woman and a 35-year-old woman, according to Baza. The younger woman, the 68-year-old’s daughter, was the former Wagner fighter’s girlfriend, according to Krasnoyarsk Online.
The two had reportedly argued before the inmate-turned-mercenary became enraged that his girlfriend didn’t want to go home with him; he is accused of setting the home ablaze as revenge.
Firefighters only found the women’s remains after extinguishing the massive fire. The suspect was in possession of a canister when police detained him, local reports say.
He was freed from prison to join the war in November 2022 and returned home in May 2023 with a pardon for his previous conviction on charges of causing grievous bodily harm.
Just a day earlier, a Wagner fighter in the Lipetsk region was detained for allegedly beating to death his wife’s 4-year-old daughter. The local branch of the Investigative Committee released a press release on the crime without identifying the suspect as a Wagner mercenary, though independent media outlets reported that he’d joined Wagner in April and returned home in August for vacation.
Last Friday, investigators in the Nizhny Novgorod region announced murder charges against a former prison inmate accused of dumping gasoline on his own sister and setting her on fire. Baza reported that the 55-year-old with “several murder convictions” on his record had just returned home after serving with Wagner.