Former Wagner commander seeks asylum in Norway after fleeing Russia

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Former Wagner commander seeks asylum in Norway after fleeing Russia

Former Wagner commander seeks asylum in Norway after fleeing Russia


A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group who fought in Ukraine said he has fled to Norway and is seeking asylum in fear for his life after witnessing the killing and mistreatment of Russian prisoners brought to the frontline.

Norwegian police said a foreign citizen had been arrested on the night of Thursday to Friday after illegally crossing the Russian-Norwegian border in the Arctic and was seeking asylum.

“During the night to Friday at approximately 01:58 a person was arrested in Pasvikdalen on suspicion of illegally crossing the Norwegian-Russian border, in the area of Skroeytnes. There was a person who came over and contacted the civilian population in the area. He was ungrammatically arrested by a joint border patrol between the defence and the police,” said Tarjei Sirma-Tellefsen, from the Finnmark Police District.

Andrei Medvedev, who joined the group on July 6, 2022, on a four-month contract, said in a video posted by the rights group that he had crossed the border into Norway before being detained by Norwegian police.

Medvedev, an orphan who joined the Russian army and served time in prison before joining Wagner, said he had slipped away from the group after witnessing the killing of captured deserters from Wagner.

He said he crossed the border, climbing through barbed-wire fences and evading a border patrol with dogs, and heard guards firing shots as he ran through a forest and over thin and breaking ice into Norway.

His Norwegian lawyer said Medvedev was now in the “Oslo area” but did not give details.

Brynjulf Risnes, who declined to say where Medvedev was fighting in Ukraine, said Medvedev said the escape was dramatic.

“He was chased and they both fired shots and dogs were sent after him. The way he tells the story, it’s like a spy thriller, where you escape just at the last minute. He saw a light in a house on the other side and ran there, and a woman came out. There he said that he wanted to talk to the police. They called the police who arrived at the quite quickly. They were dramatic minutes and hours”.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, who founded Wagner, said that Medvedev had worked in a Norwegian unit of Wagner but had “mistreated prisoners”.

In interviews with Gulagu, Medvedev said he grew disaffected after his contract was repeatedly extended by Wagner without his consent. He said he had witnessed the killing and mistreatment of Russian prisoners who were brought to the front by Wagner.

Russia sent forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it calls a “special military operation” to “denazify” its neighbour and protect Russian security.


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