Russia’s Wagner questions the cruel execution of a “traitor” during the Ukraine War.

A video that purported to depict the gruesome execution of a Wagner soldier for defecting to the Ukrainians has been disputed by Russia’s Wagner mercenary company.

The soldier replies, “I was forgiven,” in a brand-new video footage that Wagner creator Yevgeny Prigozhin has shared.

Additionally, Mr. Prigozhin refers to the soldier, Dmitry Yakushchenko, as “a nice fellow” in a post on his Telegram channel.

Perhaps Wagner fabricated the prior footage. It seemed to depict Yakushchenko receiving a deadly blow from a sledgehammer.

In response to a question regarding Yakushchenko’s actual fate from the Russian news outlet Ostorozhno Media, Mr. Prigozhin made light of the video.

“Ksenia, try not to be so pessimistic. The kids are having a good time,” the Wagner chief cryptically wrote.

He claimed that the case was more like the popular World War II thriller Seventeen Moments of Spring than it was a one-off drama from the Soviet era. He continued, “You know, good always wins out against evil.

Despite Mr. Prigozhin’s statement on Telegram, Yakushchenko’s current situation is unknown, and there is no proof that he is still alive. There is no proof that Yakushchenko used a prisoner swap to go back to Wagner.

He acknowledged having escaped to the Ukrainian side before being abducted and becoming a prisoner of Wagner in the first video on Monday, which was posted on the Telegram channel Grey Zone, which is connected to Wagner.

The “trial of a traitor” was presented as the apparent sledgehammer “execution,” which was captured on camera in a cellar.

It resembled a gruesome killing that was depicted in a Wagner film three months prior and involved a soldier who was once again suspected of defecting to the Ukrainians.

Wagner, a “private military company” (PMC), has thousands of soldiers engaged in intense combat in Ukraine.

It started operating in 2014 in Crimea and has since expanded to other parts of Ukraine, Syria, and Africa. The country has been charged with cruelty and war crimes.

Yakushchenko stated in the second video posted on Monday: “At Wagner PMC, everyone has the right to fix their faults.

“I said all kinds of ridiculous things when I was abducted, and I’m still ashamed of it, but it was the only way to survive. I was pardoned after I was released from captivity because I brought back a ton of useful information that saved a lot of people’ lives. I am really appreciative of this.

Neither the videos nor the accompanying text posts made it apparent where or when the filming occurred.

You might find the following description distressing.

Dmitry Yakushchenko, 44, a native of Crimea who defected to Ukraine four days after joining the Wagner fighting force, was identified by Grey Zone as the suspected “traitor.”

The first segment of the video showed him being held captive in Ukraine; according to the BBC, the film was taken from the Ukrainian channel Espreso.TV.

In it, Yakushchenko predicted that in a few years, Ukraine might regain control of Crimea.

He had previously been imprisoned for murder, but had grabbed the opportunity to defend Wagner in order to get out. It is well known that Wagner hired individuals from Russian jails.

The image of Yakushchenko sitting in a cellar with his head taped to building materials leaning up against a stone wall is then cut to.

Behind him is a another man who is clutching a sledgehammer. “Trial for treason,” the caption for the image reads.

The video becomes hazy as the first hammer blow is delivered, and Yakushchenko starts to regress. After a few more punches, the caption “the court hearing is adjourned” appears.

Photo of Yevgeny Prigozhin from 2017
Picture source: AFP
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the director of Wagner, became well-known as the proprietor of a catering company.
The Grey Zone post mocks Yakushchenko’s purported demise by bringing up Yevgeny Nuzhin, another ex-prisoner who was “executed” by Wagner in November.

According to the post, like his colleague Yevgeny Nuzhin before him, he had the illness that causes people to pass out in Ukrainian cities, first in Kyiv and now in Dnipro, before awakening in a basement at their final court appearance.

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Since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine a year ago, the mysterious mercenary force has taken on a more public persona, even building a sizable headquarters in St. Petersburg.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a longtime associate of President Vladimir Putin, has earned the moniker “Putin’s chef” for his work as a caterer for the Russian aristocracy and military.

However, he has downplayed the contribution of the Russian army and asserted that Wagner’s soldiers are better combatants by giving Wagner credit for the operation against Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

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