Award-winning Russian author Zakhar Prilepin said the unit in which he served "killed many people" and that he has no regrets having fought in the Donbas war.
Speaking to Russian TV journalist Aleksei Pivovarov on August 15, Prilepin boasted that the battalion in which he was the deputy commander killed the most people than any other unit, according to RFE/RL.
"When all the documents are looked over, they’ll see the most people died where my battalion was stationed," Prilepin said.
When asked if he sees ghosts of the dead, Prilepin said, "I don't agonize over anything."
However, Prilepin, 44, said he does ponder his combat experience in Ukraine.
"I think about how I will come to terms with this in the future…because I led a subunit that killed many people, so now I think about how I will live with this," he said.
The writer boasted he could travel anywhere he wants in Europe and that "I'll never do jail time, no court will send me to prison" for what he did.
The Digital Forensic Research Lab, a project of the Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council, identified Prilepin's unit as the 4th Reconnaissance and Assault Battalion.
"My battalion wreaked total mayhem," Prilepin said in the interview. Its leader was another Russian, Sergei Fomchenkov, according to DFR Lab. He and Prilepin were members of the banned ultranationalist National Bolshevik Party.
When it became widely known that Prilepin was fighting in Ukraine's Donbas region, Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president's spokesman, said on February 13, 2017 that he wouldn't comment on Prilepin's motivation for fighting.
"Russian citizens follow their hearts and go to these unrecognized republics. I can only state this as a fact," Peskov said.
Officially, the Kremlin denies involvement in the Donbas conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people.
After Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, Prilepin became a Kremlin loyalist and started to praise Putin.
In April 2018, Bosnia-Herzegovina barred Prilepin from entering the country on security grounds.
Ukraine's SBU security service wants him in on charges of "taking part in the activity of a terrorist organization" and for "financing terrorism."
Ukraine's Culture Ministry placed Prilepin on a "black list" of people who pose a "national-security threat."Ukraine's SBU security service wants him in on charges of "taking part in the activity of a terrorist organization" and for "financing terrorism."
In 2011, Newsweek magazine wrote that "to understand Russia today, you need to understand Prilepin."