‘Excellent directorial work,’ says Prigozhin A former prisoner who fought for PMC Wagner and surrendered to Ukrainian Armed Forces was murdered as a ‘traitor.’ The murder was filmed.
On the evening of November 12, the Telegram channel Grey Zone, which is connected with PMC Wagner, posted a video which allegedly shows the murder of former prisoner Yevgeny Nuzhin. Nuzhin was recruited to fight for Russia in Ukraine, surrendered, and in an interview with Ukrainian journalists said he was prepared to fight for Kyiv.
Grey Zone presents the murder as “punishing a traitor.” On the morning of November 13, PMC Wagner founder Evgeny Prigozhin called the clip “excellent directorial work.” The press service of Prigozhin’s company, Concord, quotes him as saying, “In this show, it’s clear that [Nuzhin] did not find happiness in Ukraine, but met unkind but fair people.”
Warning: The text below contains graphic descriptions of violence that may disturb some readers.
Presumably, Nuzhin was returned to the Russian forces’ location in a prisoner exchange. After Ukraine reported the return of 45 prisoners from Russia, Anastasia Kashevarova, pro-war commentator and former adviser to Vyacheslav Volodin, reported that PMC Wagner has its own fund for exchanges, and “our own fighters weren’t there.”
Ukrainian authorities have called on Russians to surrender, guaranteeing their return “in accordance with all conventions” and promising not to exchange those who don’t wish to return (since the beginning of September, voluntary surrender has been a criminal offense in Russia).
Yevgeny Nuzhin’s death has not been officially confirmed. Law enforcement and investigators have not commented on the possible murder of a Russian citizen.
Nuzhin’s interview with Yury Butusov was published on September 4. Online publication Vazhniye Istorii (Important Stories) confirmed that the man in that video was a former prisoner from Penal Colony No. 3 in the Ryazan region.
Nuzhin said he’d been sentenced to 24 years for murder during a “skrimish” in 1999, and allegedly got another four years for attempting to escape. According to Nuzhin, the businessman Evgeny Prigozhin flew to their penal colony over the summer in order to recruit prisoners for the war in Ukraine. Nuzhin claimed in the interview that he decided “a long time ago” to surrender, and wanted to fight on the Ukrainian side in the “Russian Legion.” He also said that he has relatives in Ukraine.
News broke this summer that PMC Wagner was recruiting prisoners for the war in Ukraine. According to numerous reports, PMC Wagner founder was personally visiting penal colonies. According a video circulated in September, Wagner promised that prisoners would be pardoned, but also warned that they’d be executed for deserting.