Russia's Novaya Gazeta has published video footage showing members of the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) with the severed head of their victim, a Syrian man who was severely tortured before his death.
The publication names one of the alleged perpetrators of the massacre: Stanislav Dychko, born in 1990. According to Novaya Gazeta, he has been a Wagner mercenary fighter since 2016.
The material was published under the headline "Thugs 2.0." It opens with Novaya Gazeta reminding that six months ago the journalists of this publication had already told about the crimes committed by several mercenaries of the Wagner Group. The documents published earlier, according to the newspaper, proved that torture, murder and subsequent abuse of the corpse were committed in Syria by Russian citizens.
The editorial board reports that so far neither the Russian prosecutor's office nor the investigative committee have shown interest in this crime. "We were able to get a fuller version of the video, which captures the massacre. Perhaps the new data will convince law enforcement officers that a crime against humanity has been committed," the text reads.
Journalists believe that the Russian Investigative Committee should respond to this material.
Novaya Gazeta states that the time and place of the crime are now known - June 2017, the al-Shaer gas field in Syria. "The location with the help of a photo can be set to a meter," the article emphasizes. The identity of the murdered Syrian is known.
At least one participant in the crime is known, and there are also photographs suitable which could help to identify the accomplices of the crime.
The Russian Criminal Code, Article 105, provides for life imprisonment for aggravated premeditated murder. Another article, 356th, imposes a penalty of up to 20 years in prison for the ill-treatment of prisoners of war or civilians. There is no statute of limitations for the commission of crimes committed under both articles.
Mercenarism is a criminal offence in Russia. Despite this, the Russian retired military continues to participate in military conflicts around the world. As previously found out by independent investigators, the Private Military Company Wagner, which is associated with Putin’s close associate Yevgeny Prigozhin, is actually the structure of the GRU (Intelligence Directorate) of the Russian Defense Ministry, but the Russian authorities invariably deny this.
On January 11, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said that more than 2,000 Wagner mercenaries were currently fighting in Libya, to which Vladimir Putin replied that they "do not represent the interests of Russia" and "do not receive money from the Russian state."