Nikolai Ogolobyak was sentenced to 20 years in a high-security penal colony in 2010 for his involvement in the gruesome killings of four teenage girls.
In 2006, when Ogolobyak was 16 years old, he joined a strange group along with six other Russian teenagers. This group made Ogolobyak and the other teenagers participate in Satanic rituals, including using the blood of sacrificed animals and worshipping in front of an inverted cross.
In 2008, the group led by its founder Konstantin Baranow sacrificed teenage girls to initiate another girl named Ksenia Kovaleva into the cult using human blood.
The group invited two girls named Olya Pukhova and Anya Gorokhova to a "gathering." They got the girls drunk and took them to a clearing behind the cemetery, where they formed a pentagram around a fire. They attacked the girls, stabbing, beheading and dismembering them while reciting incantations. They took pictures with the severed heads, ate the victims' hearts and tongues, and smeared Kovaleva with the victims' blood before burying the bodies.
The next day, the group gathered again, this time with a new member, Alexey Soleviev, and two other teenagers, Andrei Sorokin and Varya Kuzmina, who became their third and fourth victims. The two were beheaded, dismembered and buried, with their clothes burned on a ritual fire. The parents initially thought their children were at a rock festival, but when the festival ended and the children didn't return, they contacted the police.
During sentencing in 2010, Ogolobyak and the other six underage members confessed but showed no remorse for their crimes. Ogolobyak, the only adult, received a 20-year sentence, set to be released in 2030 after a pardon, while the other six, being minors, received sentences between two and ten years and have since been released.
Now, Ogolobyak has returned home to his mother after being injured during a six-month tour in Ukraine.
"He became disabled after he was injured. He can walk, but his injuries are serious. He's not working yet; he's recovering," Ogolobyak's father stated as he confirmed the release of his son.
Ogolobyak is not the only one of his kind. Russia has been pardoning dozens of prisoners in exchange for six months of military service in Ukraine. According to reports, at least 17 convicted murderers have already been freed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Related: NATO, U.S., in trouble as Russia expands militarily and moves hypersonic missiles near Ukraine.)
In 2022, an analysis conducted by Russian news website Mediazona found that the Kremlin-linked Wagner mercenary group had recruited as many as 23,000 convicts to reinforce Russian forces in Ukraine. The investigation points to a sudden 6.5 percent drop in the male prison population in Russia since August of the same year.
These convicts-turned-mercenaries are usually dispatched to the contested Donbas region in the Ukrainian far east to participate in several weeks of training. They are also allegedly warned that any attempt to flee or surrender to Ukrainian forces will result in their immediate execution.
Government statistics and human rights groups estimate that up to 100,000 inmates have been freed and sent to fight in Ukraine since the conflict began in February 2022.
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