Russian Telegram channels have posted a video showing the execution of Yevgeny Nuzhin, a former inmate of Ryazan Penal Colony No. 3 and a member of the Wagner Group who surrendered to the Armed Forces of Ukraine after being sent to fight in Ukraine. His head was smashed in with a sledgehammer.
Details: The video consists of two parts that have been edited together. One part is an excerpt from an interview Nuzhin gave to a Ukrainian journalist after he had been taken captive. [In the interview, Nuzhin talks about how the Russians are recruiting convicts to the war against Ukraine, and says he deliberately joined the Wagner Group so as to be taken prisoner in Ukraine and fight against Russia – ed.]
The other part of the video shows a man in Ukrainian military uniform, with his head taped to a makeshift anvil made of bricks and concrete. He says that he is “Yevgeny Nuzhin, born in 1967″, that he went to the front in order to go over to Ukraine and fight against the Russians”, and that “on 4 September, he carried out his plan to go over to Ukraine”.
He also claims that on 11 November, “I was on the streets of Kyiv, where I was hit on the head, lost consciousness and ended up in this basement”, where he was told that he was going to be “tried”.
After that, a man in military uniform hits Nuzhin on the head using a large sledgehammer. The “accused” falls down from the anvil, and the “executioner” smashes him in the face again. At this point, the video ends.
A comment allegedly made by Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, in which he admitted that the execution was carried out by his mercenaries, has also appeared on Russian social media.
Quote from Prigozhin: “I prefer to watch this story in the theatre. As for the executed man, it’s clear from this video that he did not find happiness in Ukraine, but met with evil but fair people. I think this film should be called ‘A dog deserves a dog’s death’. Excellent director’s work, you can watch it in one go. I hope no animals were hurt during the filming.”
Why this is important: Nuzhin’s claim that he was captured in Kyiv sounds implausible, as prisoners of war are not able to walk around the city freely.
Russian social media communities also say that Nuzhin was apparently returned to Russia in one of the POW swaps.
Perhaps this video is intended to discourage Russian conscripts from surrendering to Ukraine.
Wagner fighters have long been notorious for their atrocities, and Prigozhin’s mercenaries have been using sledgehammers to murder people with since the war in Syria. In 2017, Wagner mercenaries in Syria beat a man to death, quartered the body and burned it. Evidence of this can be found on the internet.