Andrei Medvedev, a 26-year-old Russian man claiming to have deserted from the Kremlin-linked Wagner mercenary group, is on trial in Oslo for his involvement in a street fight in the city center.
The trial began on Tuesday, April 25. Medvedev pleaded guilty for his part in a brawl outside a bar in February, for resisting arrest and, three weeks later, being found in possession of an air gun. However, he denied a further charge of assaulting officers at a police station in the early hours of Feb. 22.
Medvedev, who is seeking asylum in Norway, claims that he fought for four months in Ukraine, as a member of the Wagner group, before deserting in November. He claims the group extended his contract, against his will, amid allegations he has made against their brutal behavior in Ukraine.
Norwegian authorities have been questioning Medvedev, since his arrival in the country, where he claims that mercenaries, who refused to return to combat, were executed. He says he has a video supporting his claims.
The details of Medvedev's past and the circumstances of his escape remain uncertain, as some experts have questioned how he could have crossed the heavily guarded Russian-Norwegian border without assistance.
Medvedev claims that on Jan. 15, he made his way across the border near the village of Nickel in the Murmansk region. He described climbing over two fences, while being chased by barking dogs and shot at by border guards.
He eventually reached a Norwegian border town and urgently knocked on the door of the first house he found to ask for help. The residents called the police, who subsequently detained Medvedev and took him to a deportation center. However, he was later released after applying for political asylum.
Medvedev’s behavior has presented challenges to the authorities since arriving in Norway. He was briefly arrested in January for refusing to follow restrictions on his movement, imposed by the police and, in early March, was detained in neighboring Sweden after crossing the border to buy cigarettes, claiming to be unaware that he was not allowed to leave the country while his asylum application was being processed.
The trial continues, as Norwegian authorities seek to determine the veracity of Medvedev's claims and uncover more information about his alleged involvement with the Wagner mercenary group. Medvedev could potentially be a valuable witness in relation to the group's reported brutality in Ukraine.
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