According to Norwegian police and a Russian activist, a former commander in Russia's Wagner private military firm has escaped to Norway and is requesting asylum after crossing the country's arctic border.
In an interview with a Russian activist who assists people seeking asylum overseas, Andrei Medvedev stated that he feared for his life after refusing to continue his service with Wagner.
A spokeswoman for Norway's Police Security Service in an interview with CNN confirmed that Medvedev was in the country seeking asylum.
Medvedev stated that after finishing his contract and refusing to serve another, he was frightened of being executed in the same manner as Yevgeny Nuzhin, a Wagner defector who was killed with a sledgehammer on camera.
"We were just thrown to fight like cannon fodder," he told Vladimir Osechkin, head of human rights advocacy group Gulagu.net in a conversation published on YouTube.
A crucial role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the mercenary organization directed by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin recently carried out the majority of the combat in the small eastern town of Soledar.
The group is frequently referred to as Russian President Vladimir Putin's shadowy forces. Since its founding in 2014, it has increased its global influence and has been charged with war crimes in Africa, Syria, and the Ukraine.
In a recorded phone conversation with Osechkin from Norway that was made public online, Medvedev claimed that he had crossed the border close to the Russian town of Nikel.
The statement is consistent with that of the Finnmark Police District, which stated, without naming Medvedev, that it made an "undramatic" arrest of a man in Pasvik, Norway, at 1.58 a.m. on Jan. 13.
According to his own story, Medvedev crossed the border and went to the first house he saw.
"I told a local woman in broken English about my situation and asked for help," he told Osechkin in the phone call. "While I was on the road, I was approached by the border force and police. I was taken to a department, where I was questioned and charged with illegal crossing. I explained to them everything and told them why I did it."
Medvedev alleged in a December interview with Osechkin, which was posted on YouTube, that prisoners were "shot dead for refusing to fight, or betrayal."
"I am afraid for my life," he said in December. "I did not commit any crime. I have refused to participate in maneuvers of Yevgeny Prigozhin."
"Andrei decided to leave Wagner," Osechkin told CNN. "We are not trying to justify his actions in relation to his participation in Wagner Group. But it should be understood that he decided to flee Wagner Group as terrorist organization which kills both Russians and Ukrainians."
Osechkin claimed to have assisted Medvedev with groceries, clothing, and a phone.