Russia pardoned a murderer who put his girlfriend through a meat grinder because he agreed to fight in Ukraine, his mom says

  • A Russian murderer was pardoned after fighting against Ukraine with the Wagner group, his mom said.

  • He served less than half of his 11-year prison sentence for killing his girlfriend.

  • He confessed to putting her corpse through a meat grinder in 2018.

A Russian convicted murderer who was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he killed his girlfriend and put her body through a meat grinder has been pardoned after fighting against Ukraine, his mother said.

The mother of Dmitry Zelensky told the Russian media news outlet 59.RU that her son was pardoned after serving less than half of his sentence.

Zelensky, a veteran of the Second Chechen War, confessed to the 2018 murder of his 27-year-old girlfriend, Tatiana Melekhina, in 2019, 59.RU reported.

He admitted to strangling her to death after a quarrel, before disposing of her body in a horrific way to try to cover up his tracks, the media outlet said.

According to 59.RU, Zelensky told investigators during an interrogation that he dismembered her body, processed it in a meat grinder, collected the bones in three bags, and threw them into the river.

In 2019, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison, but he was released around November last year to fight in Ukraine, according to his mother, Galina Zelenskaya, per 59.RU.

She told the news outlet that she had received a call from her son late last year in which he said he had signed a six-month agreement with the Wagner Group to fight in Ukraine.

Zelenskaya said she believes her son joined Wagner for a number of reasons, with one being that he wanted to atone for his sins, according to 59.RU.

Zelensky returned to Russia in April this year after serving six months on the front lines, his mother said. Her son received his pardon from the Russian government in June, she added, per 59.RU.

Now, Zelensky is living with his aunt in Antratsit, in the Russian-occupied Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, where he plans to get a job as a builder, his mom told 59.RU.

The news outlet said that Zelensky is making payments to the father and sister of his murdered ex-girlfriend, adding that a portion of his salary in the penal colony was also going toward his victim's family.

Insider asked the Russian Ministry of Defence if it had any record of Zelensky's pardoning, but it did not respond to the request for comment.

In March, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the now-deceased founder of the Wagner group, said that Russia had pardoned thousands of convicts in exchange for fighting in Ukraine. He claimed that a very small number had reoffended.

However, a July report by the independent Russian outlet Verstka alleged that Russian authorities were covering up crimes being committed by pardoned men.

The UK Ministry of Defence warned in March that a large number of pardoned prisoners returning to Russia would lead to a "sudden influx of often violent offenders with recent and often traumatic combat experience," which could present a significant challenge.

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