Support The Moscow Times!

Wagner Denies Involvement After Mercenary Killed in Ukraine

Wagner's head Yevgeny Prigozhin. Vyacheslav Prokofyev / TASS

The head of Russian mercenary outfit Wagner on Tuesday denied the group's involvement in the execution of one of its fighters in Ukraine, after having said the man deserved a "dog's death."

Last week, social media accounts linked to Wagner shared footage of the brutal killing of a man who had reportedly surrendered to Ukrainian forces before being returned to Moscow's forces.

The man, who identified himself as Yevgeny Nuzhin, was shown receiving a fatal blow to the head with a sledgehammer. 

Wagner's head Yevgeny Prigozhin — a businessman close to the Kremlin — on Sunday praised what he described as "magnificent work," calling the murdered man a "dog."

"A dog should have a dog's death," he said.

In a fresh statement Tuesday, Prigozhin denied his private fighting group had played any role in the execution and instead blamed U.S. secret services without substantiating his accusations. 

"It's the practice of U.S. intelligence services, which abduct people, including Russian citizens, across the world," Prigozhin said, calling on Russian prosecutors to open an investigation.

"Wagner employees are distinguished by their exemplary discipline and strict adherence to international standards and globally accepted rules of social behavior," Prigozhin added.

The Russian rights group, which advocates for prisoners in Russian detention, said that Nuzhin had been in prison in Russia and was recruited by Wagner to fight in Ukraine.

Prigozhin has been accused of personally participating in a recruitment drive by offering contracts at Russian prisons, vowing that those who surrender or are captured would be killed.

The 61-year-old businessman in September disclosed for the first time that he had founded the Wagner group in 2014 to fight in Ukraine and acknowledged its presence in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Several rights groups have brought legal proceedings against Wagner, accusing its members of having in 2017 tortured and murdered a pro-regime fighter who had deserted in Syria.

This month Wagner opened a headquarters in Russia's second city of St. Petersburg.

… we have a small favor to ask.

As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just 2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.


Read more