Norway detains former Wagner commander seeking political asylum – media reports

23 January, 06:52 PM
Andrei Medvedev (Photo:Gulagu.Net/Handout via REUTERS)

Andrei Medvedev (Photo:Gulagu.Net/Handout via REUTERS)

Norwegian police have detained a former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Andrei Medvedev, who recently fled to Norway seeking political asylum, the Reuters news agency reported on Jan. 23.

At the same time, Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, put the risk of his being deported at “zero.”

Medvedev fled by crossing the Russian-Norwegian border and has said he is in fear for his life after witnessing the killing and mistreatment of Russian prisoners brought to the front lines in Ukraine to fight for Wagner.

Video of day

He said he had been detained and handcuffed on Jan. 22 at a hotel where he was staying and taken to a detention centre.

A Russian prisoners’ rights group, Gulagu.net, published a recording of a phone interview on Jan. 23 with Medvedev in which he urged Norway to let him stay and testify against the private military group, which has been fighting Ukrainian forces in some of the most brutal battles of the war.

“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.

He said he also wanted to “punish” Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, for the deaths of people who died on his orders in Ukraine.

According to Reuters, Medvedev is an orphan who joined the Russian army and served time in prison before joining Wagner last July on a four-month contract that he said the group had then repeatedly extended without his consent.

He has said he crossed the snowy Arctic Circle border into Norway, a NATO member, from Russia after climbing through barbed-wire fences and evading a border patrol with dogs.

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