Video celebrates US man who fled child pornography charges to enlist in Russian army

A screenshot from the video that appears to show Wilmer Puello-Mota.

A screenshot from the video that appears to show Wilmer Puello-Mota.

A former Massachusetts city council member who fled the United States in January just days before he was due to stand trial on charges of possessing child pornography has enlisted in the Russian military, according to a video being shared widely on Russian pro-war channels.

The video describes how the man, whom it refers to simply as Will, signed a contract with Russia’s Defence Ministry and had already seen active combat in the battle for Avdiivka.

“I definitely would do it again, I’d go back if I could,” he told an interviewer while being filmed signing papers at a Russian military recruitment centre.

The video also said that “Will” had been persuaded to enlist by the Russian military’s signing bonus of 745,000 rubles (€7,450) and its bi-monthly salary of 150,000 rubles (€1,500).

However, the man in question has been identified by US TV station WWLP as Wilmer Puello-Mota, a 28-year-old former member of the US National Guard and an erstwhile city councillor in Holyoke, Massachusetts who appears to have left the US on 7 January, two days before he was due to appear in court in Rhode Island to face charges of possessing child pornography.

What appears to be Puello-Mota’s Facebook page has been updated to say that he currently works for the Russian Defence Ministry in Moscow. It also features photos of the Kremlin and a picture of what appears to be Puello-Mota in Russian military uniform operating a drone.

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