November 13, 2023

He Was Sentenced to 17 Years. Now He Is Free.


He Was Sentenced to 17 Years. Now He Is Free.
Members of the Wagner group training Belarusian troops. Belarusian Telegraph Agency, Wikimedia Commons

Three years ago, Vyacheslav Kanyus murdered 23-year-old student Vera Pekhteleva and was supposed to serve a 17-year sentence in a maximum security colony. However, he did not spend even six months there.

According to a recent statement from the Russian Prosecutor's Office, Russian President Vladimir Putin instead pardoned Kanyus for his participation in the war with Ukraine back in April 2023.

In June, reports surfaced suggesting that Kanyus had been released and was actively participating in the Russian war in Ukraine as part of a mercenary group. The suspicion arose from photographs on social media depicting Kanyus posing with weapons, which the victim’s parents noticed. It's not clear if he joined the famous Wagner group, controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, or the Storm Z unit, controlled by the Russian Ministry of Defence.

The parents of the murdered student sought information from authorities, prompting an official response from the Kemerovo Regional Court, declaring information about Kanyus's whereabouts a state secret.

In September, human rights activist Alena Popova reported that Kanyus had returned from the front and was at large. On social media, a photo of Kanyus apparently relaxing with friends appeared, but his current location is unknown.

Vyacheslav Kanyus gained notoriety after the brutal murder of Vera Pekhteleva in January 2020. Pekhteleva had gone to Kanyus's apartment in Kemerovo to collect her belongings after ending their relationship. Despite multiple calls to the police reporting cries for help, no assistance arrived. When the apartment was finally opened, Pekhteleva was found dead with over 100 injuries, as determined by forensic experts.

Commenting on Kanyus's release, Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin's press secretary, stated that individuals with serious charges could find redemption through service on the battlefield. Pekhteleva's mother expressed dismay, noting the potential dangers of releasing prisoners who may continue to engage in criminal activities.

The case of Kanyus is not isolated, as it was revealed that Wagner offered prisoners contracts with pardons and cash incentives. President Putin confirmed signing decrees granting freedom to those agreeing to participate in the war.

Several instances have emerged where released prisoners who fought in Ukraine committed further crimes upon returning home. In September, Oleg Grechko, previously serving a sentence for murder, burned his sister alive in Zavolzhyie, near Nizhny Novgorod. Another incident occurred in Rostov-on-Don, where a former prisoner, previously convicted of murder, committed a new murder after returning from Ukraine.

You Might Also Like

No More Music
  • November 08, 2023

No More Music

So far this year, Yandex.Music has eradicated more than 4000 bits of content.
A Killer Gets Promoted?
  • October 30, 2023

A Killer Gets Promoted?

The man suspected of organizing the murder of Russian oppositionist Boris Nemtsov has become the commander of a new Chechen battalion.
Show and Shell
  • October 26, 2023

Show and Shell

A convicted murderer and Wagner mercenary was invited to talk to Russian students.
  • October 11, 2023

"Our Men Are Not Slaves; Bring Them Home"

Relatives of mobilized Russians are demanding the return of loved ones who have been at war for an extended period. Russian authorities are censoring their messages.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

At the Circus (bilingual)

At the Circus (bilingual)

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955