High-ranking Wagner mercenary deserter is arrested in Norway after ‘dodging Russian bullets’ as he fled across the border
- Wagner deserter Andrey Medvedev crossed into Norway earlier this month
- Putin’s warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin punishes deserters from his PMC severely
A high-ranking mercenary from Vladimir Putin’s Wagner private military company has been arrested in Norway after he fled across the border.
Russian Andrey Medvedev said he came under Russian gunfire as he crossed into the the Scandinavian country, where is seeking asylum. He is currently in police custody on suspicion of entering Norway illegally, authorities said.
The Wagner deserter ‘has been arrested under the Immigration Act and it is being assessed whether he should be produced for detention,’ Jon Andreas Johansen, of Norwegian immigration police, told reporters. Norway’s VG newspaper said detaining him is not a punishment, but a security measure.
Medvedev, who says he fears for his life, is believed to have illegally entered Norway after crossing the country’s 123-mile-long border with Russia earlier this month.
Andrey Medvedev (pictured), a high-ranking mercenary from Vladimir Putin’s Wagner private military company was arrested in Norway after he fled across the border
In a video posted by the Russian dissident group Gulagu.net, Medvedev said he came under Russian gunfire before crossing into the Scandinavian country.
Norwegian police said they were notified by Russian border guards about tracks in the snow indicating that someone may have crossed the border illegally.
Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, insisted on broadcaster NRK that his client is not suspected of any offence and that he is unaccustomed to Norway’s new, stricter security measures.
‘Significant security measures have been introduced. Medvedev has problems adapting to them,’ Mr Risnes told NRK.
Medvedev claimed he had been detained and handcuffed on Sunday at a hotel where he was staying and taken to a detention centre.
Gulagu.net said Medvedev had been told he faced deportation.
Asked about the claim, a Norwegian police spokesperson said: ‘No, this is not correct,’ without elaborating.
Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, put the risk of his being deported at ‘zero’, adding he had been detained due to ‘disagreement’ about measures taken to ensure his safety. ‘He is under very strict security measures and we disagree about the way they are applied. These have caused frictions,’ Risnes told Reuters.
Russian Andrey Medvedev said he came under Russian gunfire as he crossed into the the Scandinavian country, where is seeking asylum. Pictured: A Ukrainian soldier drives a tank near the Donbas frontline in Ukraine, January 18
Wagner has given deserters good reason to be fearful. In November, Russian inmate-turned Wagner fighter Yevgeny Nuzhin – who changed sides in the Ukraine war – was executed with a sledgehammer a harrowing video that circulated online (pictured, a still image from the video)
Paranoid Putin ‘turns against’ Wagner chief after the PMC boss ‘failed to take the hint’
Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service, which takes part in the investigation of war crimes in Ukraine, said it is questioning Medvedev who ‘has the status of a witness’.
Medvedev, who has been on the run since he defected from the Wagner Group, has reportedly told Gulagu.net that he is ready to tell everything he knows about the shady paramilitary group and its owner Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Prigozhin is a millionaire with ties to the Russian President.
He is known as Putin’s chef for providing catering services to the Kremlin, alongside heading up the notorious private army that has carried out the Kremlin’s bidding in the middle-east, Africa and now in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Medvedev said he left the Wagner Group after his contract was extended beyond the July-November timeline without his consent.
He said he is willing to testify about any war crimes he witnessed and denied participating in any.
The Wagner Group, which has spearheaded attacks against Ukrainian forces, includes a large number of convicts recruited from Russian prisons.
The group has become increasingly influential in Africa and has been linked to civilian massacres in Mali. It grew in notoriety during Russia’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War, and reports have also placed its fighters in Libya and Burkina Faso.
A Ukrainian soldier observes the situation in a locality near the northern front of the Donbas
Medvedev, an orphan who joined the Russian army and served time in prison before joining Wagner on July 6, 2022, said on the video on Gulagu.net that he had slipped away from the group after witnessing the killing of captured deserters from Wagner.
‘I am afraid of dying in agony,’ Medvedev told Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the Gulagu.net rights group, which said it had helped Medvedev to leave Russia after he approached the group in fear for his life.
Wagner has given deserters good reason to be fearful. In November, Russian inmate-turned Wagner fighter Yevgeny Nuzhin – who changed sides in the Ukraine war – was executed with a sledgehammer a harrowing video that circulated online.
Prigozhin described Nuzhin as a traitor, with the close ally of Vladimir Putin saying a ‘dog receives a dog’s death’ in response to the clip.
Medvedev said Nuzhin had been part of his unit.
‘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,’ he said in the phone interview with Gulagu.net, recorded on Monday.
He said he also wanted to ‘punish’ Wagner founder Prigozhin for the deaths of people who died on his orders in Ukraine.
Gulagu.net said Medvedev would face ‘brutal murder and death’ for speaking out against Wagner if he was returned to Russia. ‘We do not whitewash Medvedev. He has done many bad things in his life,’ the rights group said.
‘But he has seen the light, he has realised 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, it added.
Prigozhin (pictured left with Vladimir Putin in 2010) – himself an ex-convict who is now the billionaire head of Wagner – has taken no prisoners when it comes to deserter from Wagner
News of Medvedev’s arrest comes amid reports of a growing feud between the Russian President and Yevgeny Prigozhin.
It is understood that Prigozhin continuously gloated that his private paramilitary fighters were more superior and successful than Russia’s conventional forces.
Earlier this month, Prigozhin undermined Putin by bragging that his fighters had single-handedly taken control of the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar, which has been razed to the ground by fighting.
Putin is said to have felt threatened by Prigozhin’s rise and tactless self-assertion, experts from the Institute for the Study of War said today.
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