A Russian soldier who fought in the Wagner mercenary group in Ukraine has confessed to raping two schoolgirls and threatening to blow them up with a grenade a day after returning from the front line.
The 42-year-old male reportedly targeted the two girls, aged 10 and 12, as they left their school located on Razezdnaya Street in the southern Russian city of Novosibirsk.
It is understood the man was dressed in military uniform equipped with a skull on the insignia typical of that worn by members of the Wagner paramilitary organization, many of whom were conscripted by President Vladimir Putin straight from Russian prisons with the promise of pardons after fighting on the front line in Ukraine for six months.
The story was first reported by the Baza Telegram channel, an independent Russian media outlet, and has since been covered by the U.K. Daily Mail newspaper and several regional news sites across Russia.
According to the Baza report, the suspect told the schoolgirls he had a pistol and a grenade on him, and promised to harm the girls if they did not obey his commands. He then allegedly led his victims behind some nearby garages and abused them.
Upon returning home, his victims told their parents about the attack and local police conducted an investigation.
A later report from the same source confirmed that police officers had detained a 42-year-old male known only as Sergei Sh., who has been remanded in custody for two months while the police conduct their investigation.
Law enforcement in Russia confirmed the suspect had confessed to the crimes.
This information was corroborated by the Daily Mail newspaper, which acquired images of the suspect being brought to a police interrogation in handcuffs.
The preliminary investigation confirmed that Sergei had served in the Wagner paramilitary organization and his contract with the company expired on May 19, a day before the alleged rapes took place.
It is not known how long the attacker had been with the Wagner group or whether he had been a member of Putin’s scheme to free convicts in Russian prisons in exchange for military service.