Andrei Medvedev says he fears for his life. In Ukraine, he saw murders and abuse of prisoners. He was arrested after crossing the Norwegian border.
A former commander of the Russian Wagner mercenary group, who fought in Ukraine, claims to have fled to Norway and is seeking asylum there because he fears for his life. According to his own statements, he witnessed the murder and mistreatment of prisoners at the front.
Andrei Medvedev, who joined Russian mercenary group Wagner on July 6, 2022 on a four-month contract, said in a video posted by human rights group Gulagu.net that he crossed the northern Arctic border into Norway before being arrested by the police.
Medvedev, an orphan who joined the Russian army and spent time in prison before joining Wagner, said he split from the group after witnessing the murder of captured Wagner defectors.
“I am afraid of dying in agony,” Medvedev told Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the human rights group Gulagu.net, which claims it helped him leave Russia.
Medvedes said he crossed the border in snow, climbing over barbed wire fences and dodging a border patrol with dogs. He heard gunfire as he walked towards Norway through a forest and over thin, cracking ice.Screenshot of Gulagu.net video interview with Andrei Medvedev. (c) via Portal (GULAGU.NET)
Norway confirms important data
Local Norwegian police said a foreigner was arrested on Thursday night after illegally crossing the Russian-Norwegian border north of the Arctic Circle – and that he was seeking asylum.
Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer said his mandate was now in the Oslo area, but gave no details. It is important for him that the immigration authorities clarify his situation as soon as possible, lawyer Brynjulf Risnes told Portal.
The Norwegian criminal police, Kripos, which is responsible for investigating war crimes, said on Tuesday it wanted to question Medvedev. “He himself stated that he was part of the Wagner group and it is interesting for Kripos to have information about that time”, says the statement.
“Medvedev has witness status.”
Lawyer Risnes said Medvedev has yet to speak with the Norwegian PST security police and no agreement has been reached for an interview. “I’m sure this will be an issue at some point,” said Risnes, who declined to say where Medvedev has fought in Ukraine.
“He says he has participated in what he says are clear combat situations … and has not been in contact with civilians,” Risnes said.
Wagner’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Medvedev worked in one of Wagner’s Norwegian units and “mistreated prisoners”.
“Be careful, he is very dangerous,” Prigozhin said in a statement released by his spokeswoman. He did not address allegations of killings or mistreatment of prisoners in the statement.