Andrey Medvedev ran toward the Russia-Norway border, where he could hear attack dogs barking behind him.
He was being hunted by men. They were within easy reach of the Western world.
The 26-year-old had fled the Russian mercenaries Wagner Group two months prior. He was about the be the first soldier to defect to the West.
Yevgeny Privozhin, a businessman founded the Wagner Group in 2014. The group is believed to be responsible for 10% of Russia’s forces based within Ukraine. It has also been involved in operations in Syria, and Libya.
The group’s inhumane methods and international reputation are well-known. Medvedev may have allowed Western intelligence officers to see through that veil.
It’s not clear why he fled Norway. The frozen tundra bordering Russia and NATO is one of the most secure areas in the world.
Watchtowers are manned by soldiers and equipped with searchlights capable of breaking through the winter Arctic darkness. Regular patrols are organized by both sides.
Gulagu.net published a video where the former Wagner commander recalls being snatched by the watchtowers.
Medvedev claimed that he was able to get over the barbed wire that secured the Norwegian border. Russian guards were closing in.
He claimed that he could hear his dogs as he climbed. He claimed that he heard the Russian bullets blast past as he was being lifted up by spotlights from guard towers.
Medvedev ran towards a forest, the Norwegian forest, once he had cleared the wire. He hoped that someone would help him.
Medvedev claimed that he saw lights in the distance from a small settlement while he was moving through the forest. It was about two kilometers away. Medvedev ran toward the light.
He stated that he was afraid of looking behind him because he was afraid the dogs were following him.
He knocked on every door he could find. After begging the Norwegian border guards in broken English, he begged them to let him go.
He made it from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to relative safety in Europe.
Medvedev lived a normal life before he left Ukraine for the United States.
He was sentenced to a few months in jail for his service in Russia’s military. Some reports suggest it was theft.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed his life forever.
Russia tried to fill in the gaps created by an increase in casualties as the conflict neared an end. The Wagner Group was able to hire heavily as a result.
Medvedev signed an agreement for a period of four months, likely to get a steady income. Wagner recruits earn approximately $10,000 per month (PS8,186), much more than the average Russian salary.
Medvedev is a former soldier who was appointed as the eastern Donbas unit commander.
Mr. Osechkin claims that Wagner provided Medvedev with approximately 30-40 soldiers per workweek. Many of these were Russian convicts.
Over the past six months, much of the fighting in Ukraine has taken place in the Donbas. Wagner is believed to have been involved in two of Ukraine’s most bloody battles, Soledar and Bakhmut.
Brynjulf Risnes was Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer. He said that Medvedev witnessed a variety of war crimes including the executions of “deserters by the Wagner Group’s inner security services service.”
Mr. Osechkin witnessed the terroristic tactics of the group and stated that Medvedev had left Wagner.
He claimed that he had provided him with testimony about the war, and how special forces from the Wagner Group killed Russians not wanting to fight for Ukraine.
Medvedev was informed in November 2022 by the group that they had unilaterally extended his services despite him having fulfilled his four-month contract.
Medvedev appears to have felt that this was the final straw. “He wanted to leave as quickly as possible,” Mr. Risnes stated.
Medvedev fled Ukraine and returned to Russia. He was recruited by Wagner in St Petersburg and received his dog tags.
Mr. Osechkin stated that when he left Wagner Group, the security guard of Wagner did many things in order to locate him. He was also at high risk of dying.
Medvedev was being interrogated by security personnel. He was forced to hide from the harsh retribution he had seen the group inflict on deserters in Ukraine.
He then reached out to Gulagu.net for help. This exiled organization for human rights is
He said, “When he was at risk of death, his friend wrote Gulagu and to me to save Andrey’s life.” “We did something to help him leave Russia.”
Medvedev failed twice to cross the Finnish border and finally made it to Russia’s far north. He crossed the Norwegian frontier.
Mr. Prigozhin, chief Wagner, made a sarcastic observation Monday that Medvedev was a Norwegian citizen who had led a unit that belonged to a Scandinavian nation that didn’t exist.
A photo of Medvedev’s passport was shared, it showed that Medvedev is a Russian citizen from central Tomsk.
Mr. Risnes stated that he believes that the former mercenary brought evidence about war crimes to Norway with them and that he intends to share that information with other groups investigating war crimes.
While future war crimes investigators may benefit from Medvedev’s testimony, it’s more likely that Western spy agencies will be the ones really wanting the mercenary.
His experiences and his involvement in Russia’s bloody Invasion could shed light on the group’s activities around the world.
Medvedev is currently in Oslo while awaiting the outcome of his asylum application. He is far from the war that changed his life and made him famous.