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‘They guaranteed he was inside’ Russia’s Wagner mercenary group is reportedly sending empty coffins to its fighters’ families
The Wagner Group is sending empty coffins to the families of its mercenaries in Ukraine, according to a new report.
Journalists from TV Rain spoke to a woman they referred to as Angelina (whose name was changed for security reasons) whose husband reportedly joined the Wagner Group from a Russian prison. Angelina said she learned about her husband’s recruitment from the wife of another prisoner, but that she doubts he joined the group willingly, because he had a positive view of Ukraine.
In the fall, Angelina said, her husband stopped responding to her calls and messages, and in December, Wagner Group representatives contacted her and told her he had died on the battlefield near Bakhmut. Later, she was sent a sealed coffin, official Wagner Group medals, and a death certificate.
When Angelina inquired about whether she could be sure the body in the coffin belonged to her husband, she was told there could be no mistake: “They told us that there was no need to open the coffin, because before [soldiers’] departure [to the warzone], they take some kind of DNA, and when they find corpses, they compare [the DNA]. They told us they could guarantee one hundred percent that it was him,” she told TV Rain.
Several weeks after the funeral, however, Angelina received a message from a stranger who claimed her husband was alive and was in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. A few days later, she got a call from a man who said he was a Ukrainian Security Service employee. He, too, said her husband was alive, claiming he’d been captured by the Ukrainian military in late October. The caller even described the wound that Wagner officials had claimed caused Angelina’s husband’s death, saying he’d ultimately survived.
After that, according to TV Rain, Angelina contacted Russia’s Federal Prison Service, but the agency said it couldn’t provide any information about her husband due to confidentiality rules. The Ukrainian military, however, confirmed to her that her husband was listed among the wounded and is a POW.
TV Rain journalists have reportedly found several similar stories on social media and in Telegram groups.
Cover photo: Alexander Nemenov / TASS
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