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News

Former Wagner Group commander Medvedev decides to return to Russia, says life in Norway “hasn’t worked out”

Andrei Medvedev, a former mercenary and commander for the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), who fled to Norway seeking asylum this year, has turned to the Russian embassy in Oslo seeking assistance, according to a report by Radio Liberty. Medvedev claims that his life in Norway hasn’t worked out, and that he wants to return to Russia – even though he might be killed.

“I recently decided that I am ready to return to the Russian Federation. I asked the Russian embassy in Oslo for help to facilitate my return,” Medvedev said in one of five short videos* posted on YouTube on Thursday, May 18. The video containing Medvedev’s statement has since been taken down by its uploader.

In the video, the former mercenary stressed that he made the decision to return to Russia on his own. According to Medvedev, he has not been able to get on with his life in Norway.

“There are a lot of confusing things going on, I feel like a boy in a big game. I hoped that my life would work out here [in Norway], I would get away from all this politics of war and the army, but somehow it didn't work out,” he explained.

Andrei Medvedev also said that he would hand over documents that he believes would make it easier for him to return to Russia, noting that he considers his return to be life-threatening:

“We'll see how it goes in Russia. If they kill me, OK. If they don't kill me, then thanks. If they let me live, thanks even more.»

The Norwegian authorities have not yet commented on Medvedev's statement. In turn, the Russian Embassy in Norway confirmed to state-run news agency RIA Novosti that Medvedev was received by the organization’s consular department “as part of the normal consular functions.” “The issue of his return to Russia will be resolved in accordance with Russian law,” said embassy press attache Timur Chekanov.

Andrei Medvedev fled to Norway in January 2023 seeking political asylum. According to the human rights project Gulagu.net, the Russian, who had fought in Ukraine as part of the Wagner Group, crossed over to Norwegian territory on the ice of the Paz river (also known as Pasvikelva in Norwegian or Paatsjoki in Finnish). He claimed that he had witnessed war crimes, including extrajudicial killings of mercenaries by other members of the Wagner PMC, adding that he was ready to testify in an international court.

The founder of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, confirmed that Medvedev worked for his military company. In turn, Prigozhin accused the soldier of ill-treatment of prisoners and warned Norway that he was dangerous.

On February 25, Medvedev was arrested in Oslo for fighting and assaulting policemen while in custody. A local court sentenced him to 14 days in jail for disorderly conduct and carrying an air gun in a public place.

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