Murder in Siberia
In the remote city of Kemerovo, nestled in the heart of southwestern Siberia, a disturbing incident shook the community and sparked national outrage. Vladislav Kanyus, a young local man, committed a heinous crime against his ex-girlfriend, Vera Pekhteleva. The brutality of the act, involving prolonged torture, suffocation, and stabbing, sent shockwaves across the country.
The trial that ensued was closely followed and led to Kanyus being sentenced to 17 years in prison in July 2022. This case not only highlighted the severity of the crime but also reignited discussions about Russia’s approach to domestic violence and the perceived indifference of law enforcement towards such incidents.
However, the story took a shocking turn when Vera Pekhteleva’s mother, Oksana, received a photograph that defied belief. The image showed Kanyus not in a prison uniform but dressed as a Russian soldier, surrounded by fellow troops. It was a revelation that stunned the bereaved family and caused widespread consternation.
In a controversial move, President Vladimir Putin pardoned Kanyus, offering him a path to freedom in exchange for military service in Ukraine. This decision was part of a broader strategy to avoid another contentious mobilization ahead of the upcoming presidential elections. To bolster military ranks, the Russian Defense Ministry had turned to an unconventional source – recruiting from prisons.
Human rights activists reported that around 100,000 Russian individuals had been enlisted from penal colonies, with offers to reduce sentences for those convicted of severe crimes. This approach, initially pioneered by the late Wagner Group mercenary boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin, was now being implemented on a larger scale.