Putin pardons Satanist killer after the criminal fought in Ukraine

Putin, pictured here last year, has drawn criticism for the move
Putin, pictured here last year, has drawn criticism for the move Copyright WANG ZHAO/AFP via Getty Images
By Saskia O'Donoghue with AFP
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Nikolai Ogolobyak was given the reprieve after fighting for the notorious Storm Z unit of the Russian army in their war against Ukraine.

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The Kremlin has announced it will maintain its policy of presidential pardons for prisoners who agree to fight in Ukraine.

The news comes following reports by Russian press revealing that a man convicted of Satanist and cannibalistic murders was released from prison after fighting against Ukraine in a notorious unit of convicts.

Nikolai Ogolobyak is a Russian cannibal and part of a Satanic cult that killed four teenagers and ate some of their body parts.

The now-33-year-old was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2010 for murder and desecrating corpses over the ritualistic murders that rocked the Yaroslavl region.

Ogolobyak and other Satan worshippers in the group are said to have beheaded two of their four victims and then fried and ate their hearts and tongues.

He is also believed to have stabbed another victim 666 times - an apparent nod to the “number of the Beast” associated with Satan.

While due for release in 2030, Russian president Vladimir Putin decided to pardon Ogolobyak after he served in the infamous ‘Storm Z’ unit.

Established by Russia in April this year, members are recruited from prisons with the promise that successful service will result in a deduction of their jail time.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has condemned such pardonings, saying, "at this stage, the Russian army has made prisoners its main source of compensation for losses on the battlefield."

Putin's pardons

The murders Ogolobyak took part in sent shock waves through Russia but it’s not the first time Putin has pardoned someone seen as unanimously unpopular - and dangerous.

On Wednesday, the Kremlin reiterated that they will keep the pardoning practice active for the foreseeable future.

“The question is not new, it has been raised several times, and currently everyone is looking closely at these lists of pardoned people,” Dmitri Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson said.

Families of victims in other cases denounced this measure, especially since they had not been informed of these releases.

Questioned on the subject at the beginning of November, Peskov defended these pardons, believing that "people convicted, including for serious crimes, atone for their crime with blood on the battlefield."

Tens of thousands of Russian detainees have joined the front in Ukraine, often under contracts with paramilitary groups such as the Wagner Group.

If they survive six months of fighting, they are automatically eligible for a pardon.

These men, though, are known to often serve in the most dangerous areas of the frontline - so there is no guarantee they will escape with their lives.

Wagner's late boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, admitted that the recruits were frequently used as cannon fodder.

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According to the site 76.ru, which has interviewed Ogolobyak’s father, the Satanist was seriously injured in battle - and is now disabled.

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