- Unverified video shows man executed with hammer
- In video, the man says he switched sides for Ukraine
- Wagner’s boss calls the man a traitor
LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Russian Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said on Sunday that a former mercenary filmed being executed with a club to the head after switching sides in a the Ukrainian war was a traitor.
Prigozhin, a Russian businessman who founded the private military group Wagner, was responding to an unverified video released on Telegram that showed a man identified as a former Wagner mercenary being executed after he admitted to switching sides in September to “fight against the Russians”. .
In the footage, the man, who went by the name Yevgenny Nuzhin, 55, was shown with his head stuck to a brick wall. He said he was abducted in Kyiv on October 11 and ended up in a cellar.
“I was hit in the head and passed out and ended up in this cellar,” he said. “They told me that I had to be judged.”
As he spoke these words, an unidentified man who was prowling in combat gear behind Nuzhin, smashed a hammer into the side of his head and neck.
Nuzhin collapsed on the ground and the unidentified man gave him another blow to the head.
Reuters was unable to immediately verify the video which appeared on the Gray Zone Telegram channel, one of several that Russian media said was linked to the Wagner Group. The video was released under the title “The Hammer of Vengeance”.
Asked to comment on the video of the execution, Prigozhin said in remarks released by his spokesperson that the video should be titled “A dog receives a dog’s death.”
“Nuzhin betrayed his people, betrayed his comrades, consciously betrayed,” said Prigozhin, who has been sanctioned by the United States and the European Union for his role in Wagner. “Nuzhin was a traitor.”
Prigozhin only confirmed in September that he founded the Wagner Group in 2014, the first public acknowledgment of a connection he had previously denied and sued journalists for reporting.
The Wagner Group, originally made up of veterans of the Russian armed forces, fought in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali and Ukraine, among other countries.
Prigozhin was shown in a video released in September recruiting convicts from a Russian war prison, warning them that the conflict was difficult and laying down rules for their conduct.
In other remarks on the execution video on Sunday, Prigozhin also issued a warning to other members of Russian society whom he called traitors.
“Remember, it’s not just traitors who throw down their automatic weapons and go over to the enemy,” he said.
“Some traitors are locked in offices, not thinking of their own people. Some of them use their own business jets to go to countries that seem neutral to us so far. not participate in the problems of today. They are also traitors.”
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.