I realized this wasnt my war Russian mercenary fleeing Wagner

‘I realized this wasn’t my war’: Russian mercenary fleeing Wagner group ‘executed with sledgehammer’

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The footage appears to show a Russian convict who fought for the Wagner group and was beaten to death with a sledgehammer after being accused of fleeing the war.

The man, posing as Dmitry Yakushchenko, 44, was accused of fleeing the mercenary group and defecting to Ukraine.

The Wagner Group is a private military company headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a man with long-standing ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In an unconfirmed video released by the Gray Zone Telegram channel, Mr Yakushchenko says he was born in Crimea and left prison before joining the mercenary group. However, in another clip later posted by Mr. Prigozhin, the soldier says, “I’ve been forgiven.”

Mr Yakushchenko’s current circumstances are unclear – and there is no confirmation that he is still alive, despite the second video and a message from Mr Prigozhin on Telegram calling Mr Yakushchenko “a fine fellow”. It is unclear when any of the videos were filmed

The original footage, captioned “Video from court of treason,” appears to show the 44-year-old with his head taped to a block on a brick wall while an unidentified person in camouflage clothing stands behind him with a sledgehammer.

Facing the camera in a seated position, he then appears to be reciting his name and year of birth.

“I was on the streets of the city of Dnipro where I was hit in the head and lost consciousness. I woke up in this room and was told I would be put on trial,” he said.

“I intended to find a loophole just, as they say, to run away,” he said, adding that he “realized this wasn’t my war.”

After that, the person behind him raises the sledgehammer and appears to swing it into his head.

A man walks past a traced mural depicting the logo of the Russian Wagner Group on a wall in Belgrade, Serbia


The video is blurry at this point, but a loud noise is heard and Mr. Yakushchenko collapses to the ground. The man swings the sledgehammer again.

A caption then appears on the video stating: “The court session is declared closed.”

Wagner group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin


Gray Zone said he was captured in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro.

“After that, like his colleague Yevgenny Nuzhin, he contracted the same disease that makes you pass out in Ukrainian cities … and then wakes up in the basement at your final court hearing,” Gray Zone said, referring to another mercenary’s sledgehammer execution, which was shown in November.

After surrendering to Ukrainian troops at the front, Mr Yakushchenko reportedly fell back into Wagner’s hands following a POW exchange between Ukraine and Russia earlier this month, according to Telegram channel Cheka-OGPU.