Home World Former Wagner commander: ‘I am sorry for fighting in Ukraine’

Former Wagner commander: ‘I am sorry for fighting in Ukraine’

by News Desk
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  • Former Wagner commander flees Russia to Norway
  • Age 26, participated in the fighting near Bahmut
  • say he was afraid of being executed on his side
  • I want to testify about Ukraine’s crimes

OSLO (Reuters) – A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, who fled to Norway, told Reuters he wanted to apologize for the fighting in Ukraine and to bring perpetrators of atrocities during the conflict to justice. raised his voice to

Andrei Medvedev, who crossed the Russian-Norwegian border on January 13, says he witnessed the killing and mistreatment of Russian prisoners of war who were taken to Ukraine to fight for Wagner.

Medvedev fled across the Arctic border, climbing barbed wire fences, fending off border guards with dogs, guards running through forests and firing across the frozen river that separated the two countries. said he heard

The 26-year-old is currently seeking asylum in Norway.

In an interview, Medvedev said, “Many people think of me as a rogue, a criminal, a murderer.” I want to

“I want to explain that I am not that person. Yes, I worked for Wagner. There are some moments[in my story]that people don’t like.

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Looking relaxed and confident, Medvedev said he wanted to talk about his experiences in the war so that “the perpetrators would be punished” for their crimes in Ukraine.

“To ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice in certain cases, we have decided to publicly oppose them.

Wagner is embroiled in a bloody war of attrition in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

a special report News released by Reuters last week found a cemetery in southern Russia buried with prisoners recruited by Wagner to fight in Ukraine.

Kripos, the Norwegian National Criminal Police Service responsible for investigating war crimes, began questioning Medvedev about his experiences in Ukraine. He has witness status.

Reuters could not immediately confirm his claims.

Wagner founder Evgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has previously said that Medvedev worked for Wagner’s Norwegian unit and “abused prisoners.”

“Be careful, he is very dangerous,” said Prigogine.

Wagner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

From Orphan to Joining Wagner

Medvedev was born in the Tomsk region of Siberia. He said he was placed in an orphanage around the age of 12 after his mother died and his father went missing.

He said he was drafted into the Russian army in 2014 at the age of 18 and served in the Ulyanovsk-based 31st Airborne Brigade.

“That was the first deployment in Donbass,” Medvedev added, without giving further details.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine began in 2014 after the pro-Russian president was overthrown in Ukraine’s Maidan revolution and Russia annexed Crimea. Meanwhile, the Russian-backed separatists in Donbass, consisting of Donetsk and Luhansk, sought to break away from Kyiv’s rule.

Medvedev has served multiple prison terms, including for robbery, and decided to join the Wagner Group in July 2022 when he was last released from prison.

Medvedev said he was not drafted straight out of prison, but decided to enlist because he realized he would likely be drafted into the Russian regular army.

He signed a four-month contract with a monthly salary of about 250,000 rubles ($3,575). He crossed over to Ukraine on his July 16th and fought near Bakhmut, he said.

“It was a mess. The roads to Artemovsk were strewn with corpses of soldiers.”

At Wagner, Medvedev led the squad, received orders from the platoon leader, and planned combat missions. He said he had seen “courageous acts from both sides”.

Medvedev said he witnessed two people being shot in front of newly recruited prisoners who did not want to fight.

“The most terrifying thing is to realize that there are people who think of themselves as compatriots who may come and kill you, either immediately or on someone’s orders,” he said. “Your own people. That was probably the scariest thing.”

Medvedev left Wagner when his four-month contract expired, despite being told by his superiors that he had to serve longer, he said.

Medvedev was asked if he was afraid of being shot for refusing to fight.

($1 = 69.9305 rubles)

Reported in Oslo by Nerijus Adomaitis, Janis Laizans and Gwladys Fouche.Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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