COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Russian man who reportedly defected from a high-ranking position in the Wagner Group has been given permission to stay in Norway but was refused permanent asylum, a Norwegian newspaper reported Tuesday.
The lawyer for Andrey Medvedev, Brynjulf Risnes, told Dagbladet that his client was granted temporary residence “due to the security risk involved in sending him back to Russia,” but wasn’t given permanent residence or citizenship.
The Associated Press was unable to contact Risnes on Tuesday.
Medvedev sought asylum in January 2023 after having defected from Wagner and fled to Norway, crossing illegally over the country’s 198-kilometer (123-mile) border with Russia, saying he feared for his life if he were sent back.
Medvedev said he agreed to join the Wagner Group — a private Russian military company known for its brutal tactics — from July to November 2022, but he left after his contract was extended without his consent.
He reportedly told Russian dissident group Gulagu.net that he was ready to tell everything he knew about Wagner and its owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a millionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said he was willing to testify about any possible war crimes he witnessed, though he denied participating in any himself.
In April 2023, Medvedev was sentenced to 14 days in jail in Norway for disorderly conduct and for carrying an air gun in a public place. Officers had detained Medvedev outside a pub in Oslo following a February bar brawl.
A private military company, Wagner staged with its founder Prigozhin a brief rebellion against the Kremlin and marched on Moscow in June 2022. The mutiny ended with a deal that saw the relocation of Wagner troops to Belarus.
Two months later, Prigozhin and several of his top associates were killed in a plane crash that was widely seen as the Kremlin’s revenge.
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