Wagner Group Boss Defends Brutal Execution Video

He said man killed with a sledgehammer was a 'traitor'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2022 6:20 PM CST
Wagner Group Boss Defends Brutal Execution Video
People sit in an office in the "PMC Wagner Centre" in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.   (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

After horrifying video emerged of what appeared to be the execution of a Wagner Group mercenary, the head of the Russian private military group expressed approval of the fate of the "traitor." The unverified video shared on Wagner-linked Telegram channels shows a man who gave his name as Yevgeny Nuzhin being killed with a sledgehammer, reports Reuters. In the video, Nuzhin admits being a deserter, saying he was attacked in Kyiv on Nov. 11 and woke up in the cellar where the video was filmed. The Telegraph reports that Nuzhin was a convicted murderer recruited by Wagner from a Russian prison. In the video, he said he had deserted and changed sides with the intention to "fight against Russians."

In a September interview after his capture by Ukrainian forces, Nuzhin, 55, said that his unit was "cannon fodder" and that he went into the conflict planning to desert. He had been held as a prisoner of war, and it's not clear how he would have been free to walk around Kyiv, the BBC notes. It's also unclear how he would have ended up in Russia, though there have been unconfirmed reports he was part of a prisoner exchange. In a statement, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said Nuzhin had "betrayed his people, betrayed his comrades." "It seems to me that this film should be called: 'A dog dies a dog’s death,'" Prigozhin said. "It was an excellent directional piece of work, watched in one breath. I hope no animals were harmed during filming."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the video was "not our business." Ilya Nuzhin, Nuzhin's son, confirmed that the man in the video was his father, the Guardian reports. "Our whole family was in tears watching the video," he told human rights group Gulaga.net on Sunday. The group's head, Vladimir Osechkin, called for a criminal investigation. "Wagner would have not been able to commit this medieval execution without the approval of the Russian security services," he said. The rights group says Wagner has recruited more than 10,000 inmates from Russian prisons to fight in Ukraine. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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