Wagner group defector caught allegedly trying to return to Russia
Andrei Medvedev, a former commander of the Russian mercenary group, is believed to have been stopped by police while illegally trying to cross the border into Russia.
Norwegian lawyer Brynjulf Risnes said the arrest had been a misunderstanding and insisted Mr Medvedev had been on a trip to visit the spot where he arrived in Norway.
“He was up there to see if he could find the place where he crossed [into Norway in January],” Mr Risnes said. “He was stopped when he was in a taxi. He was never near the border … it was never his intention to cross the border [into Russia].”
When he claimed asylum in Norway in January, Mr Medvedev said he feared for his life after witnessing the killing and mistreatment of Russian prisoners brought to the frontline in Ukraine.
However, in May, he said in a video posted on YouTube he wanted to return to Russia even though he believed this could pose a risk to his life, describing himself as “some kind of a boy in a big game” that he no longer wanted to be part of.
Mr Medvedev has also got into trouble in Norway due to his involvement in a bar brawl – when he was first discovered to be in the country, and for carrying an air gun
Police said in a statement late on Friday that a man in his 20s had been taken into custody for attempting to illegally cross the Russian border, but did not name him.
Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash in Russia in August – weeks after staging an attempted coup and marching on Moscow.
Mr Prigozhin executed a surprise U-turn and called off the coup hours after it began. He subsequently was said to have gone to Belarus, where his forces were training troops there.
However, the Wagner camps there have since been disbanded. It is believed the organisation is focusing on its work in Africa, where it established itself as a protection force against uprisings from militants linked to Al-Qaeda and is working in countries including Mali, the Central African Republic and Syria.
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