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 front lines.
Andrei Medvedev, who joined Wagner on July 6, 2022 on a four-month contract, said in a video posted by the Gulagu.net rights group that he had crossed the northern Arctic border into Norway before being detained by Norwegian police.
Medvedev, an orphan who joined the Russian army and served time in prison before moving on to Wagner, said 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 leave Russia after he approached the group in fear for his life.
He said he crossed the snowy 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.
Local Norwegian police said a foreign citizen had been arrested on the night of Thursday to Friday after illegally crossing the Russian-Norwegian frontier, north of the Arctic Circle, and was seeking asylum.
His Norwegian lawyer said Medvedev was now in the “Oslo area” but did not give details. “What is important for him (Medvedev) is that immigration authorities clarify his status as soon as possible,” lawyer Brynjulf Risnes told Reuters.
“Medvedev has a status as a witness.”
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