Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of a mercenary group, accuses the US of killing Yevgenny Nuzhin, who he says defected to join the Ukrainian army.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group in Russia, has denied any involvement in the killing of one of the Ukrainian fighters.
Last week, a social media account linked to Wagner shared unconfirmed photos of a man who had been killed after announcing that he had switched sides in September to “fight the Russians”.
In the photos, the man, who gave his name as Yevgeny Nuzhin, 55, was shown with his head painted on a brick wall. He said that he was abducted in Kyiv on October 11 and came to the basement of a house.
He said: “I was hit on the head and I fainted. “They told me I should be prosecuted.”
While he was saying these words, an unknown man in military uniform was seen behind Nuzhin smashing a hammer on the side of his head and neck.
Nuzhin fell to the ground and an unknown person shot him in the head again.
The video appeared on the Gray Zone Telegraph channel, one of the Russian media outlets said to be linked to Wagner’s group. The pictures were placed under the title, The hammer of revenge.
Asked to comment on the video of the murder, Prigozhin said Sunday in a statement that the video should be called, “A dog accepts the death of a dog” and called Nuzhin a “rebel”.
“Nuzhin gave his people, he gave his friends, he gave his knowledge,” said Prigozhin, who has been recognized by the United States and the European Union for his role in Wagner.
But on Tuesday, the 61-year-old denied Wagner’s involvement and accused US intelligence agencies of being responsible for the murder, without providing any evidence to back up his claims.
“I asked Wagner’s employees if they kidnapped Evgeny Nuzhin and if they participated in his torture. No one gave information about participating in his kidnapping or torture,” Prigozhin said in a letter to Igor Krasnov, the Russian prosecutor, and was published on social media Russian version of VKontakte.
“For me, it is clear that Nuzhin was kidnapped and brutally murdered by US law enforcement officers,” he added, calling on Krasnov to open an investigation into the murder.
The Russian rights group Gulagu.net, which advocates for prisoners in Russian prisons, said Nuzhin was in a Russian prison before being recruited by Wagner to fight in Ukraine.
Prigozhin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is accused of participating in a recruitment operation by offering contracts to Russian prisons, promising that those who surrender or are captured will be executed.
In September, he revealed for the first time that he founded Wagner’s group in 2014.
Equipped with Russian military equipment, Wagner’s forces have fought in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali and Ukraine, among other countries, in recent years.
Earlier this month, the group opened its first headquarters in Russia’s second city, Saint Petersburg.