War in the Ukraine: A Russian deserter from Wagner manages to escape to Norway

War in the Ukraine: A Russian deserter from Wagner manages to escape to Norway

A Russian who presents himself as a deserter from the Wagner group applied for asylum after crossing the border in Norway. He claims to witness numerous war crimes in Ukraine.

His name is Andrei Medvedev, is Russian and claims to be a former mercenary from the Wagner paramilitary group. During the night from Thursday to Friday, this 26-year-old young man illegally crossed the Russian-Norwegian border. He presented himself as a deserter and applied for asylum.

In an interview broadcast by the NGO Gulagu, Andrei Medvedev stated that he was the head of a section of ten men in the service of the Wagner group. He would therefore have taken part in the fighting in Ukraine for several months.

He claims to have fled against his will after his contract was renewed. According to Brynyulf Risnes, his lawyer, Andrei Medvedev no longer wanted to be part of the Wagner group after he “experienced something completely different from what he expected”. He would have witnessed several war crimes.

Currently fighting for the Ukrainian city of Soledar, the Wagner group, led by businessman Evgueni Prigojine, is suspected of numerous abuses in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world.

Investigations are still ongoing to confirm whether Andrei Medvedev actually fought within this organization or not. In any case, he is assured that his “former employers” tried to find him. “They issued a desired notice of a crime (against me) through the Russian Interior Ministry, he insisted. I was threatened with being kidnapped, murdered, shot down. “

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Questioned by the BBC, the founder of Gulagu, Vladimir Osechkin, supports his version, indicating that the young man joined the paramilitary group in July 2022. Wagner’s mercenaries are often former prisoners.

“The bullets don’t go very far”

After his desertion, Andrei Medvedev spent two months underground in Russia preparing his escape. According to his story, the young man reached Norway via the Arctic and crossed the Pasvik, a frozen river. A Russian patrol was on their tail at the time, he said.

“I heard dogs barking, I turned around, I saw people with flashlights about 150 meters away and running in my direction,” he said. I heard two shots, the bullets whistle very far (…). I ran about two kilometers with the help of the light from the houses on the ice.

Once the border was crossed, Andrei Medvedev would go to the Norwegians to explain his situation, according to his lawyer. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested by the police and applied for asylum. Brynjulf ​​Risnes told the BBC his client is currently in the Oslo area where he faces charges of entering Norway illegally.

According to the lawyer, the young man is no longer in police custody and will drop the charges against him if he is granted asylum. Andrei Medvedev said he was “ready to talk about his experiences in the Wagner group, the people who investigate war crimes talk about his experiences in the Wagner group,” he was ready.

The founder of the Russian paramilitary group, Yevgeny Prigoyine, responded with a press release from one of his companies. He appears to mock the portrayal of the alleged deserter, identifying him as a Norwegian citizen. However, he accuses Andrei Medvedev of “mistreatment of prisoners” and describes him as “very dangerous”.

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