Suspect of mass murder fought in Ukraine
On the night of August 1, a mass murder was committed in the village of Derevyanoe near the regional capital city of Petrozavodsk. Six people were stabbed to death – five men and a woman. The perpetrators killed an elderly man and his son, set fire to their house and went to another family. There they stabbed to death two disabled brothers, their sister and a retiree guest, after which they also set fire to the house.
The suspects were detained almost immediately. They turned out to be two residents of Karelia, Maxim Bochkaryov and Igor Sofonov. Both are repeat offenders. According to court databases, Bochkaryov was convicted of theft, carjacking, robberies, rape and sexual assault. Igor Sofonov had served sentences for thefts, robberies, and attempted murder. The men did time together —Sofonov’s personal page has several pictures of them together in a prison setting.
The version that at least one of the detainees had previously fought in Ukraine emerged almost immediately. Reporters heard this from the locals, and this was indirectly confirmed by media sources in law enforcement agencies. The Barents Observer found this to be true. Igor Safonov fought in Ukraine for several months and may have been wounded there.
This is evidenced by the content of one of his social media pages. The man ran the page under the nickname Karel Sofonov. Instead of an avatar, there is the logo of the Storm Z squad, where the Ministry of Defense recruits prisoners. “Karel” is probably a call sign: in one of the photos, Sofonov is holding a helmet with such an inscription.
The page has many photos of Sofonov in military uniform and with weapons, as well as pictures of his fellow fighters. The man claims that they are all prisoners. “Everyone here is from the camp,” he writes to one of the users in the comments section.
The conclusion that Sofonov was in Ukraine can be drawn from the selfie in front of the monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky in Luhansk.
Sofonov was also fond of pro-war patriotic content. His page has posters with a call to “crush the fascists”, as well as a music track called “Bang bang we shoot at Ukrainians”. In one of the pictures, he is sitting in a jacket with a “Crushing dill” sleeve patch. Dill (ukrop in Russian) is a derogative term for Ukrainians.
The page has almost 160 followers, including several namesakes (possibly family members). In the comments to the pictures from the war, they call Sofonov a defender and wish him a speedy return.
The first pictures date back to last October, and in May Sofonov publishes photographs from civilian life. It can be assumed that the man was wounded in Ukraine: he posted a video with the caption “Hospital routine”, where he has fun riding a gurney. In July, Sofonov published pictures of himself relaxing in nature – sitting on the shore of a lake covered with a sheet of heat-insulating material.
“God of disguise,” a female friend writes jokingly to him. “Been taught this at war,” Sofonov replies.
At the time of writing the Prionezhsky district court in Karelia was still deciding on pre-trial restriction for Sofonov and Bochkaryov. When Sofonov was brought into the court room, a reporter asked him if he had taken part in the “SMO” (special military operation); the man replied in the affirmative.
Ex-convicts who went through the war in Ukraine regularly get into crime news. In the unrecognized republic of South Ossetia, a mercenary with Wagner PMC killed a man with cerebral palsy; in the Krasnodar region, a criminal who had also served in Wagner killed a 19-year-old girl and her co-worker; in the Kirov region, a man convicted of murder killed a fellow villager a week after returning home from serving in Ukraine.