Norway holding Wagner deserter, will not deport to Russia

A former member of the private militia escaped to Norway seeking asylum. He is under tight security over fears for his life.

Norwegian authorities say they have detained a Russian man who may have illegally entered the country seeking asylum on January 13. The individual in question, Andrey Medvedev, is a former member of Russia’s notorious Wagner Group, a private militia active in Ukraine as well as in Africa and Syria.

Medvedev, who deserted to Norway after fighting in Ukraine, has asked for asylum, saying he faces certain death if deported to Russia.

Norwegian authorities admitted arresting Medvedev as they are trying to determine whether he entered Norway illegally. Medvedev escaped across the border between the two countries at the Arctic Circle after witnessing militia members being brutally killed for “disobeying orders” within the group.

The man says he came under gunfire from Russian border guards as he evaded dogs and fled past the barbed-wire border.

The 26-year-old Medvedev immediately applied for asylum upon entering Norway. His Norwegian lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, says a conflict ultimately arose between Medvedev and Norwegian authorities over living conditions at a safe house.

The fact that Medvedev had been in a safe house was confirmed by Vladimir Osechkin of the Russian dissident group Gulagu.net, which helped Medvedev escape.

“He was staying at a safe house on a volunteer basis,” said Risnes. “If he refuses to be there, they have to either let him go or detain him.”

Jon Andreas Johansen of Norwegian immigration police on Monday told told Associated Press (AP) news agency that authorities had decided to detain Medvedev not as a means of punishment but rather protection.

Norway will not deport Wagner Group deserter

Medvedev has publicly expressed fears of being deported, Norwegian authorities say he has nothing to fear and Medvedev’s lawyer Risnes says chances of deportation are “zero.”

Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service, which is investigating war crimes in Ukraine, said Medvedev “has the status of a witness” and spoke to investigators Friday.

Medvedev, an orphan who joined the Wagner Group last July after first serving in the Russian army then doing time in a Russian prison, says he objected to the militia extending his four-month contract with the group without his consent.

Medvedev claims he wants to “punish” Wagner Group founder and boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, a billionaire buddy of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Medvedev says Prigozhin is responsible for sending people to their deaths on the frontlines to aid Putin’s war plans.

“My goal in coming here was firstly of course to save my life and secondly to tell the truth to the people and the world,” Medvedev told Gulagu.net in a phone interview recorded Monday.

Though he denies personally having participated in war crimes, Medvedev says he would be willing to share with Norwegian authorities information about crimes he witnessed.

Gulagu.net, says Medvedev faces “brutal murder and death” at the hands of Wagner for coming forward.

“We do not whitewash Medvedev. He has done many bad things in his life. But he has seen the light, he has realized this, he is ready and willing to cooperate with the world, with the international investigation and with the authorities of Norway, he wants to live and testify” against Wagner and Prigozhin, said Vladimir Osechkin of Gulagu.net.

Increasingly, Wagner Group, which has been involved in some of the most brutal battles waged in Ukraine, has recruited members from Russia’s vast prison population.

In November, a video appearing on a Telegram channel linked to Wagner showed one such recruit being brutally beaten to death with a sledge hammer after he had surrendered to Ukrainian forces yet returned to Russia, perhaps as part of a prisoner exchange.

js/wmr (AP, Reuters)

https://www.dw.com/en/norway-holding-wagner-group-deserter-will-not-deport-him-to-russia/a-64492943

4 comments

  1. He is under investigation because he came suspiciously easy over the border, he maight be sent by the russians as an influencing agent according to the military secret service

  2. If he’s not a fake, sent by mafia land, his death is certain if he returns to mafia land. He will get a public execution, of course with a sledgehammer, until his head is reduced into a puddle of red pulp.

What is your opinion?