Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, convicted for the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, has been pardoned after agreeing to fight in Ukraine.
Politkovskaya, known for her reporting on abuses in Chechnya, was killed in Moscow in 2006, highlighting the dangers faced by journalists in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
Khadzhikurbanov, a former law enforcement officer, received a 20-year sentence in 2014 for orchestrating Politkovskaya's murder.
His lawyer, Alexei Mikhalchik, revealed that Khadzhikurbanov joined the war in Ukraine under a scheme used by the Wagner mercenary force. After signing up from prison, he was pardoned and is now serving as a volunteer soldier, having contracted with the Russian Ministry of Defence.
The news, reported by Moscow Times and the independent portal Meduza, states that Khadzhikurbanov has returned to military service with the rank of a battalion commander. He was originally convicted alongside four other men from Chechnya, where Russia suppressed two rebellions, the latter under Putin's leadership.
The European Court of Human Rights in 2018 criticized the Russian authorities for failing to identify the individuals who commissioned Politkovskaya's murder, despite convicting the direct perpetrators.
Politkovskaya's work, mainly for Novaya Gazeta, a now-banned independent magazine in Russia, earned her international recognition. She reported on abuses in Chechnya by Russian forces and rebels, facing detentions and death threats. Her murder in 2006 caused an international outcry and underscored the increasing risks for independent journalists in Russia.