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Wagner-affiliated channel reports another extrajudicial killing of recruit with sledgehammer

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The Telegram channel GREY ZONE, affiliated with the Wagner PMC, released another video of the sledgehammer execution of a convict-cum-mercenary who had surrendered to Ukrainian captivity. The clip was posted on the night of February 13, and the man in the video is presumably Russian national Dmitry Yakushchenko, born in 1978.

Yakushchenko was born in Crimea and had multiple criminal records. His latest conviction for robbery and murder had put him behind bars for 19 years. From the penal colony, he joined the Wagner PMC, and according to GREY ZONE, defected to Ukraine after four days of combat. In captivity, Yakushchenko gave an interview and confessed that he had immediately planned to escape and had done so near Bakhmut. He also said that Crimea would be Ukrainian again. The video is made up of two clips, the first showing Yakushchenko's interview from captivity, and the second including footage signed as “trial for treason”. The prisoner himself says that he got hit and blacked out in Dnipro, and then found himself at the place of execution. How exactly the captive mercenary ended back with the PMC is unclear.

“Like his colleague Yevgeny Nuzhin earlier, [Yakushchenko] got the same disease that makes you lose consciousness in Ukrainian cities, first in Kyiv, now in Dnipro, and then wake up in a basement to his last court hearing,” the Telegram channel captioned the video of his killing.

This is not the first time the PMC has used such methods to kill convicts who were recruited for the war in Ukraine and defected to the enemy. In November, GREY ZONE published a video of the “execution” of Russian convict Yevgeny Nuzhin, who had also surrendered to the Ukrainians and had given an interview to Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov. The VChK-OGPU Telegram channel wrote that Nuzhin had returned to Russia in a POW exchange. Wagner co-founder Evgeny Prigozhin commented on the execution video as follows: “A dog’s death to a dog!” On later occasions, however, he placed the responsibility for Nuzhin’s killing on US and NATO special services. Andrei Medvedev, a former Wagner mercenary and Nuzhin's commander, told The Insider that he had crossed the border with Norway and had sought asylum there.

UPDATE

Following the release of the video, Prigozhin’s press service published a video of Yakushenko who is alive and claims he has been forgiven by the PMC. However, there is no way to determine whether the video was made before or after the alleged footage of his execution. The retrieved prisoner says:

“In captivity, I talked a lot of sh*t, and I feel very ashamed, but it was the only way to survive. Returning from captivity, I brought plenty of valuable intel that has saved many lives, so I was forgiven, and I am very grateful for that.”


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