The former employee of the Russian mercenary force "Wagner", who applied for asylum in Norway, wants to return to Russia. This was announced by Andrei Medvedev in a video posted on YouTube by exiled Russian human rights activist Vladimir Osheshkin. Osheshkin had helped Medvedev flee Russia. In the video, Medvedev says that he contacted the Russian embassy about his desire to return.

Julian Staib

Political correspondent for Northern Germany and Scandinavia, based in Hamburg.

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He had hoped that he could find peace and tranquility in Norway, but he did not succeed. He feels like a boy in a big game and he doesn't want to be that anymore, Medvedev said. He wants to return, even if it could be dangerous for him in Russia. Medvedev also cited a Russian proverb as a justification for his desire to return: "Where you were born, there you are also useful."

According to the Norwegian news agency NTB, the Russian embassy in Oslo confirmed that Medvedev had made contact and said he wanted to go home. An embassy official says that Medvedev was received at the embassy as part of normal consular functions. According to him, the desire to return to Russia is his own initiative. Medvedev's Norwegian defender Brynjulf Risnes, on the other hand, told the newspaper "Aftenposten" that he did not believe that Medvedev would really return, but that he was "desperate" – he found life as an asylum seeker in Norway difficult.

Doubts about Medvedev's background

In Norway, Medvedev had repeatedly attracted negative attention. Shortly after his arrival, he was arrested. The exact circumstances remained unclear, but he had apparently not adhered to police guidelines. He was also arrested after a brawl in front of a bar in Oslo, but was subsequently acquitted. Later, he moved freely around the country. Medvedev told the newspaper "Aftenposten" that he appreciates Norway very much, everything is so humane there, if the police want something from you, you will be invited for a cup of tea.

Later, however, he complained about his accommodation, about the food, and about the police. Most recently, he was arrested in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he had entered illegally – according to his own statements, in order to be able to buy cigarettes cheaper there than in Norway.

Medvedev had applied for asylum in Norway in January after crossing the border from Russia in the far north of the country. There had been doubts about his escape story until the end. Accordingly, he had passed - with the help of a foreign passport - several border controls, then overcome several fences and had run across a frozen border river. "I heard two shots, bullets whizzed past," Medvedev had stated. However, no one had heard shots on the Norwegian side, and the border on the Russian side is considered extremely difficult to cross.

There are also doubts about Medvedev's history, as accounts of the duration of his service vary and there is no evidence for most of his claims. According to him, as commander of the Russian mercenary force, he led a storm troop. He claims to have handed in his own badge at the "Wagner" headquarters in St. Petersburg. He also stated that Yevgeny Nushin, who was later murdered as a "traitor" on camera with a sledgehammer, had served in his unit.

Denies executions of its own fighters

"Wagner" is accused in Ukraine of the most serious war crimes, including against civilians. Medvedev had confirmed to the American television station that "Wagner" had executions of his own men, but he had denied war crimes against civilians. "I don't know of such cases," he said. At "Wagner" there are "strict rules".

Medvedev was also scheduled to testify in Norway as a witness to Russian war crimes. Norway's National Criminal Police Service Kripos, which is involved in the international investigation into war crimes in Ukraine at the International Criminal Court, had contacted him about this.

Norway has joined the sanctions against Russia and recently intensified its crackdown on the regime. In April, Oslo expelled 15 Russian diplomats accused of espionage. Norwegian security services regularly warn of espionage and sabotage by Russia.