The incredible desertion of a Russian mercenary via a frozen river

The man presents himself as an ex-mercenary of the paramilitary group Wagner. A refugee in Norway, he says he is ready to testify to what is happening in his country.


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L’story is incredible. A former mercenary from the paramilitary group Wagner managed to escape by crossing the Russian-Norwegian border in the Arctic. Andrei Medvedev, 26, was arrested after illegally crossing the border overnight from Thursday to Friday January 13, his Norwegian lawyer, Brynjulf ​​Risnes, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “He is willing to talk about his experience with the Wagner group to people investigating war crimes,” he said.

In an interview broadcast by the NGO Gulagu, the man who claims to be a deserter explains that his contract was extended against his will, after several months of fighting in Ukraine in the service of this Russian organization led by businessman Yevgeny Prigojine . “My former employers tried to find me, the Wagner company, Prigojine and his gang, the FSB [la Sécurité d’État russe, NDLR]. They issued a wanted notice for a crime (against me) via the Russian Interior Ministry,” he explained.

“I was under the threat of being kidnapped, of being assassinated, of being shot, or even, worse, of being condemned to the mass like Noujine”, he assured, quoting an ex-detainee and Wagner deserter whose horrific execution with a mace was filmed and made public in mid-November.

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He crossed a frozen river

Claiming to have been the leader of a section of ten men, he recounts having crossed a frozen river, the Pasvik, which separates Russia from Norway in the far north, with a Russian patrol on his heels. “I heard dogs barking, I turned around, I saw people with flashlights, about 150 meters away, running in my direction,” he said.

“I heard two shots, the bullets whistled from very far […]. I ran on the ice with the help of house lights, for about two kilometres,” he continued. According to his lawyer, he then went to see Norwegians explaining to them that he had crossed the border illegally, before being arrested by the police shortly afterwards.

According to Brynjulf ​​Risnes, his client had decided not to renew his contract with Wagner after experiencing “something completely different from what he expected”.

AFP was unable to independently confirm that the young Russian had fought under Wagner. This group of mercenaries, very present in Africa, is suspected of numerous abuses in Ukraine. He is currently leading the fight for the capture of the city of Soledar, in the east of this country.

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