He chosen to battle for Russia in Ukraine. So why did this mercenary defect?

WARNING: This story accommodates graphic particulars from the battle in Ukraine

As Andrei Medvedev walks the streets of Oslo, Norway, he pulls a black hoodie up over his brief soiled blond hair. 

it is seemingly an try and dam the frosty February air, versus concealing a part of his face which has been splashed throughout the information media on this Scandinavian nation ever since he fled over the distant Arctic border it shares with Russia final month. 

The 26-12 months-previous who signed as a lot as battle for Russia’s Wagner mercenary group in Ukraine declares he is not afraid of something — besides the prospect of attending to return to house and face the ruthless vengeance of his one-time employer, and the implications of publicly condemning the invasion of Ukraine. 

He informed CBC information that if that occurs, “they’d kill me.”

“i am writing a will and that i will die.”

Medvedev says he crossed Norway’s border, which lies 1500 km northwest of Moscow, evading border guards, canine and even bullets inside the lifeless of evening time early morning hours of Jan. thirteen.

he is believed to be the primary Wagner fighter who has defected and spoken publicly. 

A mural of four soldiers holding guns.
A mural depicting mercenaries of Russia’s Wagner Group is vandalized with paint on a wall in Belgrade, Serbia, on Jan. thirteen. (Darko Vojinovic/The associated Press)

Medvedev is claiming asylum in Oslo and is taken beneath consideration a witness by Norway’s authorized police service which has questioned him a quantity of instances over his function with the infamous Wagner Group. 

Shortly after arriving on the bloody battlefield of Bakhmut in japanese Ukraine final summer time, he says he realised they had been “not serving to the people of Donbas” and it took him months to get out of Ukraine, and even longer to flee Russia. 

In an interview with CBC information, he acknowledged as the battle flawed and mentioned occupied territory, collectively with Crimea, should be returned to Ukraine. 

“We mustn’t be there and that is all,” he mentioned.

“This battle mustn’t have occurred.”

whereas he urged people to not choose him or dismiss his repentance, Norway’s Ukrainian group has filed complaints to the police over his presence inside the nation, arguing he ought to face a authorized courtroom in Kyiv instead. 

WATCH | Why Medvedev says he modified his thoughts on Ukraine: 

Ex-Wagner Group mercenary describes why he fled to Norway

Andrei Medvedev speaks to CBC information about his expertise stopping in Ukraine with the Russian mercenary group.

Signed as a lot as battle

Medvedev signed a 4-month contract to battle for Wagner in July shortly after being launched from jail. He informed Reuters he had served a quantity of jail phrases, collectively with one for theft.

The Wagner Group has been actively recruiting in Russian prisons, promising convicts freedom in the event that they handle to survive the battle in Ukraine, whereas on the identical time vowing loss of life to anyone who flees the entrance line.

Western intelligence officers think about that as many as forty,000 prisoners have joined Wagner’s drive in Ukraine, and movies circulated on-line current Wagner’s commander Yvegeny Prigozhin personally urging convicts to enroll to battle. 

Prigozhin, is former caterer who grew to become an in depth confidant of President Vladimir Putin, is now answerable for the secretive private drive that Russia has deployed to Syria and a quantity of completely different African international areas and is now leaning on closely as a consequence of it struggles with mounting losses in Ukraine. 

WATCH | the particular person behind the infamous Wagner Group:

Putin’s most dangerous henchman

Yevgeny Prigozhin has lurked in Vladimir Putin’s shadow for years, and now he’s stopping Russia’s battle in Ukraine collectively with his ruthless 50,000-man mercenary army acknowledged as The Wagner Group. CBC’s Terence McKenna breaks down what’s acknowledged about Prigozhin to uncover a dangerous ex-authorized having fun with a extreme-stakes recreation for administration.

Medvedev says his final dialog with Prigozhin did not go effectively, and informed CBC information that he considers the commander to be a “smug fool,” who’s consumed by power. 

Prigozhin has bragged about Wagner killing anyone who’s deemed a traitor.

In November, a disturbing video circulated on-line of a former Wagner fighter, Yevgenny Nuzhin, being bludgeoned to loss of life with a sledgehammer. 

Prigozhin commented that the video should be acknowledged as “a canine receives a canine’s loss of life.”

Medvedev says he decided to enroll and battle for Wagner as a consequence of he figured he was going to be drafted anyway, and knew the Russian army typically had factors paying its troopers. 

beneath his contract he earned the equal $4,seven hundred a month in Ukraine.

A person in military garb leaves a building.
a particular person sporting a camouflage uniform walks out of PMC Wagner Centre, which is a challenge carried out by the businessman and founding father of the Wagner private army group Yevgeny Prigozhin, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Nov. 4, 2022. (Igor Russak/Reuters)

Witnessing battle crimes

Medvedev grew up inside the Siberian area of Tomsk, and says he spent a part of his childhood in an orphanage, and did a 12 months of army service when he turned 18. 

He says he was deployed to the Donbas in 2014 as a consequence of the Russian army and native separatists fought for administration of Donetsk and Luhansk in japanese Ukraine. 

CBC information hasn’t been in a place to immediately confirm any of his claims.

whereas he has spoken to completely different information retailers about commanding fighters in Bakhmut, he refused to answer any questions from CBC information about what precisely he did with Wagner, saying he did not want to jeopardise his discussions with the police and the continued asylum course of. 

Wires and other detritus hang down from a heavily damaged building, while bricks litter the ground.
A resident pushes his bicycle previous rubble down a avenue in Bakhmut, Donetsk area, on Jan. 6, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Wagner Group has been closely involved in stopping inside the world. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty photos)

He beforehand spoke about witnessing battle crimes collectively with the execution of two males who did not want to battle, however he wouldn’t go into particular particulars with CBC information, saying that talking too liberally earlier than was a “massive mistake” on his half. 

He says he struggles with the horrific photos of deciding on up the physique elements of mates.

“I always have this reminiscence in my thoughts, it retains popping up,” he mentioned.

“That was the hardest factor.”

Escaping inside the snow

Medvedv informed CBC information that he left Ukraine on Nov. eight regardless that Wagner officers had been making an try to enhance his contract. 

He went to St. Petersburg the place he dropped the identification tags he was issued after which he went into hiding in Russia till he might uncover a means out. 

Medvedev says he tried to cross over the Finnish border twice however failed, so in mid-January he opted to try Norway. 

He described being dropped off shut to the border sporting a white army coverall, so he might mix in with the snow-lined area and frozen water. 

He mentioned he hopped over two barbed wire fences, earlier than he heard the sounds of canine barking at him and finally the sound of bullets whizzing by from the Russian facet. 

He says he ran alongside a frozen river and into the forest in Norway. 

A man in a black hoodie looks out a window, with a city landscape spread out below.
Medvedev seems to be over Oslo. The Russian fled into Norway throughout the distant Arctic border on Jan. thirteen and is in discussions with officers there as he seeks asylum. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

Medvedev says he then knocked on a house and awakened an older woman.  He defined in English that he was Russian and motioned in the direction of the border.

The authorities picked him up a quick time later. 

He described Norway as nice and respectful; he is hopeful his asylum declare will be granted

“people want think about not decrease than for a second and put themselves in my footwear,” he mentioned. “try and picture that they’ve been launched up in these situations.”

Ukrainians protesting his presence in Norway

however his pleas and apologies imply little to Norway’s Ukrainian group, which has been rallying every evening time in entrance of the nation’s parliament constructing for the rationale that start of the battle. 

On Thursday night, simply over a dozen people gathered sporting flags and singing Ukraine’s nationwide anthem. 

Natalya, who would solely give CBC information her first identify, held an indication with Medvedev’s picture and acknowledged as him a terrorist. 

“He has to take accountability for what he has carried out, ” she mentioned.

A woman stands with a poster of Andrei Medvedev's face and the text 'Russian terrorist in Norway now.'
Natalya, protesting in entrance of Norway’s parliament in Oslo, holds an indication calling Medvedev a ‘Russian terrorist.’ (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

“you may think about that he has killed. i do not know what quantity of however he has killed Ukrainians.”

Maxim Nechyporuk, who’s initially from Lviv, Ukraine, says Norway’s Ukrainian inhabitants has swelled as hundreds of refugees have arrived all by the final 12 months. 

He says lots of them are uncomfortable with Medvedev’s presence. 

He and others have been sending complaints to the police saying that they do not really feel protected with Medvedev of their metropolis. 

“His regrets are ineffective,” he informed CBC information.

A man dressed in the Ukrainian flag stands in front of the Norwegian parliament building in the dark during a protest.
Maxim Nechyporuk, who’s initially from Lviv, Ukraine, protests in Oslo. He says Medvedev should be tried in a Kyiv authorized courtroom rather than being given asylum in Norway. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

“Let him communicate to the Ukrainian choose … get the various after which we will hear his regrets.”

As for Medvedev, he is typically accompanied by safety as he transits by metropolis. he is now not in detention and dwelling at an undisclosed location. 

He says he is in contact with simply a few of his former Wagner comrades. 

“lots of them remorse being there,” he mentioned. 

“[They] assist as me.”


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