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Norway charges Wagner deserter after street brawl

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Norway charges Wagner deserter after street brawl
File photo: A general view of the Norwegian border crossing station at Storskog. Andrei Medvedev crossed the Russian-Norwegian border on January 13th and sought asylum in Norway. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP

Norwegian prosecutors said on Friday that they had charged a man claiming to have deserted Russian mercenary group Wagner who had fled to Norway, after he was arrested following an Oslo street brawl.

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Twenty six-year-old Andrei Medvedev was detained in the early hours of Wednesday after a fight outside a bar in the Norwegian capital, according to the indictment, seen by AFP.

The exact circumstances of the brawl were not specified but, according to the court documents, Andrei Medvedev, who was drunk at the time, had resisted arrest and then physically attacked police officers once he arrived at the station. His trial has been set for April 25th.

Medvedev claims to have fought in Ukraine as a member of Wagner for four months before deserting in November, when the paramilitary organisation led by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin allegedly extended his contract against his will.

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A potentially valuable witness in shedding light on the group's reported brutality in Ukraine, Medvedev has been questioned by Norwegian authorities since arriving in the country.

In particular, he claims to have knowledge of Wagner's executions of mercenaries who refused to return to combat and says he has a video showing them.

Since his arrival to Norway, where he has sought asylum, he has been a headache for authorities.

In January, he was briefly arrested for, according to his lawyer, refusing to follow restrictions imposed by police since his arrival in the country.

A few days later, the same lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, withdrew from representing him, without providing an explanation.

Many questions remain about Medvedev's past and the circumstances of his escape. Some experts have said he could not have crossed the heavily guarded border without assistance.

He claims to have dashed across the frozen Pasvik river that marks part of the Russian-Norwegian border while being chased by attack dogs and Russian border guards, who fired at him.

AFP has not been able to independently confirm his account.

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