Ukraine, Pino the fugitive Messina mercenary wanted in Donbass

The young man has made his tracks disappear since April 2021

The inaction of Pino Russo, the 29-year-old Messina ‘mercenary’ with a passion for the Kalashnikov, and who has lived in the Donbass for years, began on April 27, 2021, when the Messina Court issued a precautionary custody order in prison confirmed by the Review Court in July 2021. The young man, who has never returned to Italy, as confirmed by investigative sources at Adnkronos, is still wanted on charges of having violated the international convention against the recruitment, use, financing and education of mercenaries, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in New York on December 4, 1989.

Giuseppe Russo, called ‘Pino’, remained to fight alongside the pro-Russian militias in the armed conflict in the Ukrainian territory of Donbass, in eastern Ukraine “for remuneration and without being a citizen of that State or permanently resident there”, as the Court of Messina. The investigations on the mercenary never stopped. The secret services, as well as various prosecutors, are looking for the young Messina in Donbass and other Italian mercenaries who are in that territory. Attention “is maximum”, intelligence sources tell Adnkronos. A gun lover, Russo, so much to say in a chat, without knowing he was intercepted: “It was nice to shoot yesterday, like crazy … vvrumm vvrumm …”. The man, as he himself reveals in a conversation, is framed “in the Russian special infantry”. The fact is “aggravated by transnationality, as it is carried out by an organized criminal group, engaged in criminal activities in more than one state, with disputes in Italy and Ukraine, from a period close to June 2016 and ascertained until May 2020” .

The Messina Prosecutor’s Office documented that the man fought in Donbass

The investigation conducted by the Carabinieri of the Ros of Messina “started from the inauguration in the city of the Strait, in June 2018, of the ‘Representation Center of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Lugansk in Italy’, chaired by the co-investigated Daniele Macris “, writes the Review Tribunal in the provision in the possession of Adnkronos. The investigations, coordinated by the Messina Prosecutor, Maurizio de Lucia, also made use of the analysis of international financial flows and of the data provided by Facebook on the basis of a rogatory commission with the United States initiated by the Peloritana prosecutor. It was thus possible to document that Giuseppe Russo operated as a mercenary fighter in the Donbass region, where he had settled since 2016, sharing his military activities with relatives and friends on social networks, some of whom asked him for advice and directions to undertake the same activity. .

During the investigation, the investigators also found confirmation of the existence and operation of an organized structure active in the Italy-Ukraine area and dedicated to the recruitment and financing of mercenaries destined to integrate the ranks of pro-Russian separatist militias in the Donbass. The circuit involves subjects from different regions of Italy who have undertaken the activity of “fighters”, lined up alongside the pro-Russian militias and against the regular Ukrainian army in the disputed territories of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and, in this context , particularly alarming were the reports of the Messina suspect with other mercenaries and, in particular, with Andrea Palmeri, from Livorno, known as “the generalissimo”, already the recipient of a European arrest warrant as he was held responsible for the recruitment and recruitment of mercenaries to terrorist and subversive purpose and criminal association.

Traces of the mercenary’s activity on Facebook

“The examination of Russo’s Facebook profile also confirmed the belief that he was a mercenary in Ukraine”, reads the Review. The judges also speak of “multiple images that portrayed Russo in combat uniform, with pro-Russian military friezes, such as the star on the fur hat, the star with hammer and sickle on the buckle, as well as other more dated images that portrayed him, with the same clothing, while carrying a submachine gun (presumably AK47 rifle, better known as Kalashnikov) next to an alleged antipersonnel mine and images of what appeared to be a military base with the inscription ‘For Putin’ in Cyrillic “.

In the provision, the review judge also spoke of the salary of mercenaries in Donbass. “According to reports from Russo – we read – the higher the remuneration for the service rendered in the fighting lines, the lower if carried out through guard shifts”. According to the defense, the man would be permanently “resident in Donbass, from an epoch prior to the outbreak of the conflict” but for the judge this circumstance “is groundless, given that multiple documentary findings testify to the man’s presence abroad only starting from 2016 “.

(by Elvira Terranova)