Two high-level Russian officials – one an FSB intelligence officer, the other a high-ranking member of the Wagner group – have defected and are now seeking asylum in France, British newspaper The Express reported on Sunday, Oct. 16.
Human rights activist Vladimir Osechkin was the first to reveal the defections, saying that the two would help compile a dossier of war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
One of the defectors, a female intelligence officer from the FSB, was willing to divulge “serious insider information” relating to the invasion of Ukraine, The Express reports, including counterintelligence information and details about the Defense Ministry and “corruption schemes of the FSB.”
Meanwhile, her companion, a senior member of the infamous Wagner group, has allegedly revealed inside information relating to the group’s secret financing and to sabotage work carried out by Wagner units in the Donbas.
After leaving Russia, both individuals have allegedly now reached France, where they have applied for political asylum.
“Both these people will testify about war crimes,” Osechkin said. “I hope they will have the opportunity to cooperate with the international investigation and testify against Yevgeny Prizoghin (a close Putin ally and self-claimed founder of Wagner) and other persons in the Putin regime.”
So far, no official statements have been released by France or Russia in response to the claims.
Vladimir Osechkin, 41, operates gulagu.net, a website the exposes brutal crimes committed against inmates in Russia’s prisons and penal colonies.
Placed on a wanted list by the Russian state, in September of this year, Osechkin reported that he had “narrowly avoided an assassination attempt” while living in exile in France.
The human rights activist, an avowed opponent of President Putin, told AFP he had been targeted while at home with his wife and children, saying: “I noticed a moving red dot on the railing of one of the terraces and then moving towards me on the wall.”
“We turned off the light, lay down on the floor, closed the shutters and called the police,” he said.
Osechkin alleged that police and neighbors had heard shots being fired, and that he had subsequently been placed under the protection of French police.
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