A former commander in Russia’s private military company, Wagner, has fled to Norway and is seeking asylum after crossing that country’s arctic border, according to Norwegian police and a Russian activist.
Andrei Medvedev, in an interview with a Russian activist who helps people seek asylum abroad, said that he feared for his life after refusing to renew his service with Wagner.
Medvedev said that after completing his contract and refusing to serve another, he was afraid of being executed in the same way asYevgeny Nuzhin — a defector from Wagner who was killed on camera with a sledgehammer.
“We were just thrown to fight like cannon fodder,” Medvedev told Vladimir Osechkin, head of Gulagu.net, a human rights advocacy group, in a conversation published on YouTube.
A spokesperson for Norway’s Police Security Service confirmed to CNN on Monday that Medvedev was in Norway and seeking asylum.
“This is so far a local police investigation,” Eirik Veum told CNN. “But the Security Service, we are informed, and follow the investigation of course.”
In a phone call from Norway with Osechkin, which was published online, Medvedev said that he crossed the border near the Russian town of Nikel. That aligns with the account of the Finnmark Police District, which without naming Medvedev said that it made an “undramatic” arrest of a man in Pasvik on the Norwegian side of the border at 1:58 a.m. on Jan. 13.
In his own account, Medvedev said that he crossed the border and approached the first house he could find. “It was a miracle I managed to get here,” he told Osechkin in the phone call.
Medvedev had previously tried to cross into Finland twice and failed, Osechkin told CNN Monday. The head of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, confirmed on Telegram on Monday that Medvedev had served in his company, and said that he “should have been prosecuted for attempting to mistreat prisoners.”
In a December conversation with Osechkin, which was published on YouTube, Medvedev denied that he had committed any crimes in Ukraine.
“I signed a contract with the group on the 6th of July 2022. I had been appointed commander of the first squad of the 4th platoon of the 7th assault detachment,” he recalled. “When the prisoners started arriving, the situation in Wagner really changed. They stopped treating us like humans.”
He claimed that prisoners were “shot dead for refusing to fight, or betrayal.”
“I am afraid for my life,” Medvedev said in December. “I did not commit any crime. I have refused to participate in maneuvers of Yevgeny Prigozhin.”
Osechkin told CNN that he began helping Medvedev after being approached by a friend at the end of November.