Andrei Medvedev, the former commander of convicted murderer-turned-Wagner Group mercenary Yevgeny Nuzhin, killed with a sledgehammer in mid-November, told The Insider that he knows of ten cases when the Wagner PMC executed mercenaries who refused to take part in combat. According to him, he was personally present at several of the executions.
To Medvedev’s knowledge, two of the ten executed mercenaries were not former prisoners.
He spoke in detail about one of the mercenaries killed: “They were wounded and went to a hospital near Pervomaisk [in the Luhansk region], and from there they tried to escape. They were taken to the border at the checkpoint. The MED group came and shot them.” Medvedev explained that the MED group is a separate unit within the Wagner PMC’s security service. “They’re in the business of making people disappear: they take guys and [kill them] either publicly or non-publicly, as was the case with Nuzhin,” he said.
Medvedev claimed Nuzhin served in his unit: “He arrived from the [penal] colony, I personally drove him to his position before he switched sides. I was concussed that day and was evacuated to the hospital. The next day the SB [the Wagner Group’s Security Service] arrived and questioned me about him.”
He claims that the Wagner Group’s recruited mercenaries don't receive salaries, while their relatives do not get the promised payouts for the dead: “Half of the fighters who were evacuated, they were officially filed as missing. What is this done for? [They do this] to avoid paying for the dead, because no insurance agency would ever cover that many casualties, no insurance agency would take that.”
Medvedev also said that convicts in the unit were “re-staffed every week.” «Depending on the losses, they gave us more men. I had 15 men in my squad, it was an assault team that went out on combat missions,” he said. “The convicts started joining us in August. We formed the 4th platoon. We were the suicide squad – all the delinquents and f*ck-ups were assigned to the 4th platoon. And in a few days, there were three out of thirty men left [from the platoon].”
Vladimir Osechkin, head of the Gulagu.net media project, confirmed Medvedev's identity to The Insider. Previously, Gulagu.net published Medvedev's appeal to Russia’s leadership and Vladimir Putin personally with a request to spare his life in the event of his capture by the mercenaries from the Wagner PMC.
Medvedev is now on the run, and the Wagner PMC is after him, he told The Insider. Medvedev claims that he has a video of mercenaries being executed in Alchevsk [in the Luhansk region] and if anything happens to him, this video will be published online. The video depicts, two prisoners being executed for refusing to fight, according to Medvedev.
According to Osechkin, when Medvedev escaped, all those who fought with him were detained.
Yevgeny Nuzhin is a convicted murderer who signed a contract with the Wagner PMC and went to fight in Ukraine. Soon after he arrived on the front line, Nuzhin surrendered and gave several interviews, where he claimed that he did not support the war and wanted to stay in Ukraine. On November 13, a video of Nuzhin being executed with a sledgehammer was circulated on social media. Reports later revealed that Nuzhin was exchanged for Ukrainian prisoners of war and handed over to the Wagner Group, who carried out the execution.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner PMC, publicly endorsed the killing. “I prefer to watch history in the theater. As for the perpetrator, this clearly shows that he didn't find happiness in Ukraine, and met with unkind but fair people. I think this movie is called 'To a Dog, a Dog’s Death.' It's a great directorial work, a breathtaking film. I hope that not a single animal was injured during the production of the film,” Prigozhin was quoted as saying by the press service of his company “Concord.”
In early December, The Insider learned about the death of convict Viktor Sevalnev, who commanded the 7th motorized rifle company of the so-called “LPR people's militia.” He called his wife from the hospital and told her that he was being taken to be shot for deserting his company’s soldiers. Just a few days later, his wife was informed that he had been killed and was asked to collect his body.
On November 16, Human rights activist Olga Romanova told the We Can Explain (“Mozhem Obyasnit”) media project that she personally knows of 40 cases of recruited convict “executions.” Romanova cited her sources as relatives of the prisoners who had appealed to the human rights organization Russia Behind Bars. “To my knowledge, 40 [executions] have been more or less confirmed. They call it 'zeroing out’,” the human rights activist said. “And [Prigozhin] won't get anything for it. Any inquiries about the whereabouts of the prisoners are denied due to them being a state secret.”
In mid-September, a video circulated in the media showing Prigozhin recruiting prisoners and warning them about executions. The main “sin,” according to Prigozhin, is desertion: “No one backs down, no one retreats, no one surrenders. When you are trained in surrender, you'll be told about the two grenades you must have with you. <...> Those who arrive on the first day and say 'I must’ve come to the wrong place,' are marked as deserters and end up in front of a firing squad.”
In addition to Nuzhin's “execution,” a fragment of another video depicting Wagner mercenaries executing a deserter from the Syrian army with a sledgehammer appeared back in 2017.
According to a report by analytics firm NewsGuard, close to 160 videos appeared on TikTok during the war, either depicting or glorifying the acts of violence committed by the Wagner PMC mercenaries. Videos with the Russian-language hashtags “chvk” (“pmc”) or “chvkwagner” (“pmcwagner”) have accumulated a total of one billion views.
MEPs from various parties have called on the European Union to put the Wagner PMC on its list of terrorist organizations. In response, Evgeny Prigozhin, the head of the company, sent an engraved Wagner PMC sledgehammer covered in fake blood to the European Parliament.