Andrei Medvedev: Ex-Wagner commander fled to Norway


A former commander of Russia’s Wagner private military company has fled to Norway and is seeking asylum after crossing the country’s Arctic border, according to Norwegian police and a Russian activist.

Andrei Medvedev said in an interview with a Russian activist who helps people seek asylum abroad that he feared for his life after refusing to renew his services with Wagner.

After completing his contract and refusing to serve others, Medvedev said he feared being executed in the same way as Yevgeny Nuzhin — a Wagner defector killed on camera with a sledgehammer.

“We were just forced to fight like cannon fodder,” he told Vladimir Osechkin, director of human rights advocacy group, in a conversation posted on YouTube.

Marat Gabidullin, a former Russian mercenary for the Wagner Group, poses for a photo in Paris, May 11, 2022.  (Photo: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP) (Photo: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

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A spokesman for the Norwegian Police Security Service confirmed to CNN on Monday that Medvedev was seeking asylum in Norway.

“So far, this is an investigation by the local police,” Eirik Veum told CNN. “But the Security Service, we’re told, will of course follow up with the investigation.”

The mercenary group, led by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, has become a key player in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – most recently fighting in the eastern town of Soledar.

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The group is often described as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s secret service. Since its founding in 2014, it has expanded its footprint globally and has been accused of war crimes in Africa, Syria and Ukraine.

Medvedev said he crossed the border near the Russian town of Nikel in a phone call with Osechkin in Norway, which was posted online.

The statement is in line with that of the Finnmark police district, which did not name Medvedev but said they arrested a man at 1:58 a.m. on Friday, January 13, in Passvik, on the Norwegian side of the border. man.

In his own account, Medvedev said he crossed the border and approached the first house he could find.

“I told a local lady about my situation in broken English and asked for help,” he told Osechkin by phone. “I was approached by border guards and police while I was on the road. I was taken to a department where I was interrogated and charged with crossing the border illegally. I explained everything to them and told them why I did it.”

“It’s a miracle that I’m here,” he said.

Ossetchkin told CNN on Monday that Medvedev had tried twice before to cross into Finland but had failed.

Wagner’s chief, Prigozhin, confirmed in a telegram on Monday that Medvedev had worked for his company and said he “should be prosecuted for attempting to mistreat prisoners.”

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Medvedev denied he had committed any crimes in Ukraine during conversations with Osechkin in December, which were posted on YouTube.

“I signed a contract with the group on July 6, 2022. I was appointed commander of the 1st Squad of the 4th Platoon of the 7th Commando Squad,” he recalled. “When the prisoners started arriving, things really changed at Wagner. They stopped treating us like human beings. We were just thrown into battle like cannon fodder.”

“Every week they sent us more prisoners. We lost a lot of people. The casualties were high. We lost 15 to 20 people in our platoon alone. Most of them, as far as I know, were Buried in the LPR [Luhansk People’s Republic] and declared missing. If you are declared missing, your next of kin will not receive any insurance payouts. ”

He claimed that prisoners were “shot for refusing to fight or defecting”.

“I fear for my life,” he said in December. “I did not commit any crime. I refused to participate in Yevgeny Prigozhin’s exercises.”


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Osagechkin told CNN on Monday that he began helping Medvedev after being contacted by a friend in late November.

He explained that Prigozhin had ordered the automatic renewal of all contracts starting in November. Ossechkin claims Medvedev was beaten when he refused to renew his contract.

“Andrei decided to leave Wagner,” Ossetchkin told CNN. “Once this happened, he was wanted by Wagner’s security services and Russian special forces. His life was threatened.”

“He fears that he will be executed like Yevgeny Nuzhin – with a sledgehammer. As human rights defenders, we decided to help him and protect his life.”

Osychkin said he helped Medvedev with groceries, clothes and a phone.

“We are not trying to defend his involvement with the Wagner Group. But it should be understood that he decided to flee the Wagner Group, a terrorist organization that killed Russians and Ukrainians.”

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