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Wagner deserter Andrey Medvedev held over bid to return to Russia

  • Published
    19 hours ago

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Image source, Gulagu

Norwegian police have arrested a former commander in the Wagner mercenary group who had claimed asylum in Norway after he apparently tried to cross back into Russia illegally.

It is the latest colourful incident involving Andrey Medvedev, who has been in the West since January.

He was arrested soon after his arrival in Norway under immigration laws.

Then in April, he pleaded guilty to being involved in a fight outside a bar and carrying an air gun in public.

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However, he was acquitted of assaulting police officers.

Mr Medvedev, who crossed into Norway from Russia’s far north, is believed to be the first member of Wagner to defect to the West.

The mercenary group – whose leader Yevgeny Prigozhin died in a plane crash in August – has been used in many Russian operations.

When Mr Medvedev first came to Norway, he said he was seeking asylum because he feared being “brutally murdered” after witnessing war crimes committed in Ukraine.

But in May, he said in a video on YouTube that he wanted to go back, despite the potential risk to his life.

Police said late on Friday that a man in his 20s had been taken into custody for attempting to cross the Russian border, but they declined to name him.

Crossing into Russia is only allowed at certain points.

Mr Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, confirmed his client’s identity to Reuters news agency and said the arrest was due to a misunderstanding.

“He was up there to see if he could find the place where he crossed [into Norway in January]. He was stopped when he was in a taxi,” Mr Risnes said

He added that it “was never his intention” to cross back. “He was never near the border.”

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