COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Russian man who reportedly is a former high-ranking member of the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group, has sought asylum in Norway, authorities said Monday.
The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, also known by its Norwegian acronym UDI, confirmed to The Associated Press that Andrey Medvedev has sought shelter in Norway.
“For reasons of security and privacy, the UDI cannot comment further on this matter,” UDI said in an email to the AP.
Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, was not immediately available for comment.
The case was handed to the Norwegian immigration police and the man was transferred to Oslo, where he was placed in a center for violators of migration laws. Police in Norway have declined to comment on the case.
Last week, police in Arctic Norway said a person had illegally entered from Russia by crossing the two countries’ border, which is 198 kilometers (123 miles) long.
The man, who was only identified by authorities as a foreigner, was detained by border guards and the arrest was undramatic, police said. The man is said to have visited a private house in the border area and asked for help. Police said that they had been notified late Thursday by Russian border guards who discovered traces in the snow that could indicate that someone had crossed the border illegally.
It is believed that person was identical with Medvedev, who according to the Norwegian news agency NTB on Monday has been on the run since he defected from the Wagner Group on July 6. He reportedly has told a Russian human rights group that he is ready to tell everything he knows about the Wagner Group, its activities and its owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, a millionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Wagner Group includes a large number of convicts recruited in Russian prisons who have spearheaded attacks in Ukraine. The group has has become increasingly influential in Africa, where it has been pushing Russian disinformation, building alliances with regimes and gaining access to oil, gas, gold, diamonds and valuable minerals.