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Killer Freed to Fight Putin’s War Accused of Ax-Murdering ‘Best Teacher in Russia’

Investigative Committee
Investigative Committee

As Vladimir Putin on Thursday declared that veterans from the country’s war against Ukraine are the “true elite” and should be “entrusted” with Russia’s future, a woman in the far northeast was forbidden from seeing the body of her slain mother—because the 64-year-old had been bludgeoned to death with an ax, allegedly, by one of Putin’s heroes who was freed from prison to kill Ukrainians.

Valentina Fedorova was one of two people killed in a village in the Sakha Republic by a 35-year-old man over the weekend, according to local reports. The local branch of the Investigative Committee confirmed the gruesome double homicide in a press release, but made no mention of the fact that the accused murderer had reportedly been sentenced to 11 years in 2020 for another grisly killing, though he was freed after agreeing to a battlefield stint in Ukraine.

Viktor Savvinov is now accused of murdering not only 64-year-old Fedorova—who previously held the title “Best Teacher in Russia” and won a grant from the president for her talent in education—but also a 34-year-old man described by investigators as an “acquaintance.”

Fedorova’s daughter told local outlet Sakhaday.ru that Savvinov had drunkenly terrorized the village on the military holiday Defender of the Fatherland Day, on Feb. 23.

“He was walking around the village and complaining that he was not given the respect he was due,” she was quoted saying. After he’d gone around disturbing residents and eventually visited her mother’s house, the daughter said her mother alerted police to his inebriated antics. Hours later, he allegedly returned to get revenge.

“He broke into my mother’s house. She had bruises on her stomach and ribs, her hands were all covered in blood, which means she was trying to defend herself. After the beating, he took a utility ax and hit her over the head... They wouldn’t even show us her body, he mutilated my mother so much,” the daughter said.

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According to investigators, the suspect murdered Fedorova due to “old grievances” and then tried to burn down her house to cover his tracks. He’s currently in police custody as they wrap up their investigation.

Fedorova’s murder joins a growing list of crimes committed on Russian soil by former prisoners who were freed from penal colonies to team up with the Kremlin’s troops in Ukraine. At the same time that the horrific details of the star teacher’s murder were coming to light, a court in Novosbirsk was sentencing a former mercenary for the Wagner Group—who was also freed from prison to take part in the war—to 17 years behind bars for sexually assaulting two school girls upon his return from the battlefield.

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The deranged prison-to-battlefield pipeline that was first normalized by the Wagner Group and then adopted by Russia’s Defense Ministry led some human rights activists to question if the Kremlin’s desire to win the war trumped its desire to protect its own citizens.

Putin inadvertently answered that question in his state-of the-nation address to the Federal Assembly on Thursday: Veterans of the war, he said, “should take leading positions both in the system of education and the upbringing of youth, and in public associations, in state-owned companies … Such people, who think about the country and live by its destiny, can be given the future and entrusted with Russia. The true, real elite are those who serve Russia.”

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