Wagner mercenary back from frontline goes on rampage in home village
An ex-convict Wagner mercenary on leave from his frontline unit terrorised his home village in central Russia, smashed up cars and allegedly killed an old woman.
People living in Novy Burets were so scared of the rampaging Ivan Rossomakhin that they begged police to send him back to Ukraine, probably to die.
“He was walking around the village carrying a pitchfork and an axe shouting: ‘I will kill everybody!’,” Russian media quoted one woman as saying.
A grainy black and white video posted on Telegram showed 28-year-old Rossomakhin angrily breaking car windows.
Shortly after his arrest, police said that he was also the prime suspect in a multiple stabbing murder in a nearby town.
Villagers thought they had seen the back of Rossomakhin in 2020 when he was convicted of several crimes, including one previous murder in Novy Burets, and sent to prison for 14 years but last year he signed up to fight for the Kremlin’s Wagner mercenary group.
Under the scheme, roughly 20,000 mainly hardened murderers and drug dealers were promised their freedom if they fought as mercenaries for six months on Ukraine’s battlefields.
‘Sudden influx of violent offenders’
These ex-convict mercenaries were mainly used as cannon fodder, and most were killed, but an estimated 5,000 have now been released back into Russian society, with potentially dire consequences.
“The sudden influx of often violent offenders with recent and often traumatic combat experience will likely present a significant challenge for Russia’s war-time society,” a British intelligence report said.
Reacting to Rossomakhin's ramage, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner chief, promised that his personal security service would help catch mercenaries who create trouble, although he also insisted that the plan to recruit from Russia’s notoriously tough prisons had been a good one and ordinary Russians should be grateful.
“These people commit far fewer crimes than before after being on the frontline and thanks to these fighters a bunch of your children, fathers and husbands did not die,” he said.
And the plan appears to have impressed the Kremlin too. This year, it banned Wagner from recruiting any more convicts and instead ordered its army to adopt the tactic.