OSLO: A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group who recently fled to Norway has been apprehended by police, an official said on Monday (Jan 23), and a Russian rights group said he had been told he would be deported to Russia.
“He is apprehended … and we are considering whether to seek a court’s decision for internment,” police lawyer Line Isaksen told Reuters, declining to give further details.
Andrei Medvedev is a former commander of the Wagner group which is fighting for Russia in the Ukraine war.
He fled by crossing the Russian-Norwegian border and has said he is in fear for his life after witnessing the killing and mistreatment of Russian prisoners brought to the front lines in Ukraine to fight for Wagner.
Gulagu.net, a Russian group that campaigns for prisoners’ rights and has been in contact with Medvedev, said he had been detained and handcuffed on Sunday evening and told he was being taken to a detention centre for subsequent deportation.
There was no confirmation from Norwegian authorities of any plan to deport him. Police were not immediately available to comment.
The rights group said Medvedev would face “brutal murder and death” for speaking out against Wagner if he was returned to Russia.
“We do not whitewash Medvedev. He has done many bad things in his life,” the rights group said.
“But he has seen the light, he has realised this, he is ready and willing to cooperate with the world, with the international investigation and with the authorities of Norway, he wants to live and testify” against Wagner and its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, it added.
Medvedev is an orphan who joined the Russian army and served time in prison before joining Wagner last July on a four-month contract that he said the group had then repeatedly extended without his consent.
He has said he crossed the snowy border into Norway from Russia in the Arctic Circle after climbing through barbed-wire fences and evading a border patrol with dogs.