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Convicted drug trafficker and ex-Wagner mercenary Dmitry Karavaichik appointed as deputy head of NGO after Putin's pardon

Former Wagner Group mercenary Dmitry Karavaichik, sentenced to 17 years in prison for making and selling amphetamines and later pardoned by Vladimir Putin for taking part in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has been appointed as the deputy head of an NGO led by the governor of the Leningrad Region, according to a report by Important Stories (IStories). The NGO administers millions of roubles of donations from Russian citizens.

“I now hold the position of Deputy Director of the foundation, I help fully on security issues. We work on humanitarian aid, we cooperate with the military recruitment center of the Leningrad Region. I’ll soon be traveling to the special military operation zone on a business trip,” — he told the publication.

Karavaichik was nicknamed Russia’s “Walter White” after the main character of the AMC TV series Breaking Bad — a chemistry teacher who later became a drug lord. Karavaichik, a veterinarian by training, set up a drug lab with his wife, physics teacher Diana Gribovskaya.

The Leningradsky Frontier (Leningradsky Rubezh or Ленинградский рубеж) Foundation was established by the governor of the Leningrad Region, Aleksandr Drozdenko, with the support of Ilya Traber, a St Petersburg crime lord.

The publication found out earlier that since it began working in August 2022, the foundation has collected 56 million roubles (approximately $630,000) in donations for the participants of the invasion of Ukraine. A significant part of these funds, however, ended up in the pockets of the family of businessman Oleg Barzinsky, who is close to Drozdenko and Traber.

After pardoning Karavaichik, Putin also pardoned his wife Diana Gribovskaya. Speaking to Important Stories, Karavaichik said that she has continued to work as a teacher since her release. “But not at school — [she teaches] where it’s necessary,” he added.

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