Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary group, accuses the US of executing Yevgenny Nuzhin, who reportedly switched sides to affix Ukrainian forces.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the top of Russia’s mercenary Wagner group, has denied it had any involvement within the execution of one in every of its fighters in Ukraine.
Final week, a social media account linked to Wagner shared unverified footage of a person recognized as a former mercenary being killed after declaring that he had switched sides in September to “battle in opposition to the Russians”.
Within the footage, the person, who gave his title as Yevgeny Nuzhin, 55, was proven along with his head taped to a brick wall. He mentioned he was kidnapped in Kyiv on October 11 and got here round in a cellar.
“I bought hit over the top and misplaced consciousness and got here round on this cellar,” he mentioned. “They instructed me I used to be to be tried.”
As he mentioned these phrases, an unidentified man in fight clothes behind Nuzhin was seen smashing a sledgehammer into the aspect of his head and neck.
Nuzhin collapsed onto the ground and the unidentified man delivered one other blow to his head.
The video appeared on the Gray Zone Telegram channel, one in every of a number of that Russian media has mentioned was linked to the Wagner group. The footage was posted beneath the title, The hammer of revenge.
Requested to touch upon the execution video, Prigozhin mentioned on Sunday in remarks launched by his spokeswoman that the video must be referred to as, “A canine receives a canine’s dying” and labelled Nuzhin a “traitor”.
“Nuzhin betrayed his individuals, betrayed his comrades, betrayed consciously,” mentioned Prigozhin, who has been sanctioned by the USA and European Union for his position in Wagner.
However on Tuesday, the 61-year-old denied Wagner’s involvement and accused US intelligence providers of being behind the killing, with out offering proof to assist his declare.
“I requested Wagner workers whether or not they kidnapped Evgeny Nuzhin and in the event that they participated in his torture. None offered info of taking part in his abduction or torture,” Prigozhin mentioned in a letter addressed to Igor Krasnov, Russia’s prosecutor common, and revealed on Russia’s VKontakte social media service.
“For me, it is extremely clear that Nuzhin was kidnapped and violently killed by brokers of the US intelligence providers,” he added, and referred to as for Krasnov to open an investigation into the killing.
The Russian rights group, Gulagu.web, which advocates for prisoners in Russian detention, has mentioned that Nuzhin was in jail in Russia earlier than being recruited by Wagner to battle in Ukraine.
Prigozhin, an in depth ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been accused of personally taking part in a recruitment drive by providing contracts at Russian prisons, pledging that those that give up or are captured could be killed.
In September, he disclosed for the primary time that he had based the Wagner group in 2014.
Initially staffed by veterans of the Russian armed forces, Wagner’s mercenaries have fought in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali and Ukraine, amongst different international locations, in recent times.
Earlier this month, the group opened its first official headquarters in Russia’s second metropolis of Saint Petersburg.