Norwegian police set to free Wagner’s Russian deserter

Norwegian police plan to release a former member of the Russian mercenary group Wagner who was arrested for entering the country illegally after fleeing Russia earlier this month, the National Police Immigration Service has announced. Told local media on Wednesday.

Andrei Medvedev, 26, made a spectacular run across the Arctic border between the two countries in the early hours of January 13, before seeking asylum in the Scandinavian country.

His lawyer told AFP last week that he was “willing to talk about his experiences with the Wagner group to people who investigate war crimes”.

Jon Andreas Johansen of the National Police Immigration Service said that the release was planned because “the conditions for further detention … no longer exist”.

While in detention, Medvedev applied for asylum in Norway, according to local media.

Medvedev claims he fought in Ukraine for four months as a member of Wagner before deserting in November when the paramilitary organization founded by Kremlin-linked businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin allegedly extended his contract against his wishes.

A potentially valuable witness capable of shedding light on Wagner’s reported brutality in Ukraine, Medvedev was questioned by Norwegian authorities.

Many questions remain about Medvedev’s past and the circumstances of his escape, with some experts saying he could not have crossed the heavily guarded Russian-Norwegian border without assistance.

Medvedev claims he entered Norway by crossing the frozen Pasvik River, which forms part of the Russian-Norwegian border, after being chased by Russian guard dogs and border patrols who shot at him.

AFP was unable to independently confirm its account of the events.

Wagner did not deny that Medvedev worked for the controversial fighting force.

AFP contributed reporting.

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