Norway detains former senior member of the Wagner Group seeking asylum

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – A former high-ranking member of the Russian private military group Wagner Group, who is seeking asylum in Norway, is in custody on suspicion of illegally entering the Scandinavian country, officials said on Monday.

Russian Andrey Medvedev “has been arrested under the Immigration Act and is being assessed whether he should be produced for detention,” Jon Andreas Johansen of the Norwegian immigration police told The Associated Press. Norwegian newspaper VG said detaining him was not a punishment but a security measure.

Medvedev, who says he fears for his life if he returns to Russia, is believed to have entered Norway illegally after crossing the country’s 198km border with Russia earlier this month.

Vladimir Osechkin, of the Russian splinter group Gulagu.net, which helped Medvedev flee Russia, said he was in protective custody at a safe house and was transferred without explanation to a secure immigration centre.
Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer, Brynjulf ​​​​Risnes, insisted on broadcaster NRK that his client is not suspected of any wrongdoing and that he is not used to Norway’s new, stricter security measures for him.
“Significant security measures have been introduced. Medvedev has trouble adapting to them,” Risnes told NRK.
In a video posted by Gulagu, Medvedev said he was the target of Russian fire before crossing into the Scandinavian country. Norwegian police said they were notified by Russian border guards of tracks in the snow indicating someone may have crossed illegally.
Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service, which is involved in investigating war crimes in Ukraine, said it was questioning Medvedev, who “has witness status”. Osechkin said the former fighter spoke with investigators on Friday.

Medvedev, who has been on the run since defecting from the Wagner Group, reportedly told Gulagu.net that he is ready to tell everything he knows about the shady paramilitary group and its owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, a millionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Medvedev said he left the Wagner Group after his contract was extended beyond its July-November schedule without his consent. He has said he is willing to testify about any war crimes he has witnessed and has denied taking part in any.
The Wagner Group, which led attacks against Ukrainian forces, includes large numbers of convicts recruited from Russian prisons. The group became increasingly influential in Africa.

Norway detains former senior member of the Wagner Group seeking asylum

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