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Number of Russian Soldiers Tried for Murder Surges in 2023 – Vyorstka

A Russian soldier wearing a patch with the expression "We're Russians, God is with us." Alexander Polegenko / TASS

Russia this year has seen a huge uptick in the number of its soldiers facing trial for murders committed outside the conflict zone in Ukraine, the independent news outlet Vyorstka reported Thursday, citing military court records.

At least 147 Russian soldiers went on trial for murder between January and September, representing an almost 10-fold increase compared to the 15 murder cases heard against soldiers in military courts for the entirety of 2022.

Vyorstka said court verdicts from this year indicate that most soldiers facing trial committed murders under the influence of alcohol.

In one of the cases cited by the outlet, a mobilized soldier from Kamchatka, while intoxicated, shot a woman to death with a Kalashnikov assault rifle after learning that she did not support Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. A court sentenced the serviceman to nine years in prison in March. 

It is unclear whether the figures cited by Vyorstka include members of the Wagner mercenary outfit, which had been known to recruit prison inmates to fight in Ukraine in exchange for pardons.

Likewise, the outlet did not break down the criminal defendants by rank or type of military service, but it did note that among the weapons used in the murders were knives, axes, Kalashnikov assault rifles and pistols. 

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