A convicted murderer pardoned after fighting in the war against Ukraine with the notorious Wagner Group is accused of stabbing a local man to death after returning home–the second such case in less than a month.
Authorities in the capital of the self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia launched a manhunt late Monday after a well-known local man was repeatedly stabbed.
Soslan Valiyev, described as developmentally delayed and a local celebrity of sorts, was knifed multiple times in Tskhinvali on Monday evening, according to local reports citing police.
Georgy Siukayev now stands accused of his murder. Siukayev, taken into custody just a few hours after the grisly killing, had only recently returned from the battlefield in Ukraine. He’d been serving a prison sentence for a 2014 murder when he was apparently recruited by Wagner, according to local media.
“Disaster has occurred. If Siukayev is guilty, and the evidence leads back to him–it is necessary to get him. Everyone who may have covered for him, hid his vehicle–all must be detained,” the president of the self-proclaimed republic declared at an emergency overnight meeting, calling the murder a “high-profile case.”
Former leader Eduard Kokoyti paid tribute to Valiyev on Telegram, describing him as a “kind and harmless guy” who was “loved by everyone, with rare exceptions” and a “kind of symbol of Tskhinvali.”
Police said two other people had been detained in connection with the murder, though Siukayev was identified as the “direct perpetrator.” He allegedly committed the murder less than three weeks after returning to the area on March 27.
Last month, a similarly tragic situation played out in the Kirov region, where a 28-year-old Wagner fighter and convicted killer “on break” from the war allegedly beat and stabbed a pensioner to death.
Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, in comments to The Daily Beast, did not deny that Siukayev was a member of the mercenary group. Instead, he insisted that repeat offenses by the group’s recruited former prisoners are still incredibly rare, and that crime has decreased tenfold thanks to the group.
He went on to suggest Siukayev had actually acted heroically to defend local residents against someone he claimed was “harassing” people. According to him, the Wagner fighter had stepped in and stabbed Valiyev after the latter had begun to “insult and threaten” passengers inside a vehicle who called for help.
Surveillance footage of the moments leading up to the murder show a man identified as Valiyev speaking to someone inside a vehicle, but he is clearly seen walking away as Siukayev appears to start attacking him.
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