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Ex-Wagner commander ‘arrested in Norway for attempting to return to Russia’

Ex-Wagner commander Andrei Medvedev is pictured in court with his lawyer Brynjulf Risnes  (via REUTERS)
Ex-Wagner commander Andrei Medvedev is pictured in court with his lawyer Brynjulf Risnes (via REUTERS)

A former commander of the Wagner mercenary group has been arrested in Norway on suspicion of illegally attempting to cross the border back into Russia, his lawyer has said.

Andrei Medvedev sought asylum in Norway after escaping there from Russia via its Arctic border.

He has previously spoken of running from his home country as Russian guards fired shots at him.

Police said in a statement late on Friday that a man in his 20s had been taken into custody for attempting to illegally cross the Russian border, but did not name him.

An officer with the Finnmark local police declined to give the arrested man's identity to Reuters.

Crossing into Russia is only allowed at designated points.

His Norwegian lawyer Brynjulf Risnes told the news agency that the arrest was due to a misunderstanding.

“He was up there to see if he could find the place where he crossed (into Norway in January). He was stopped when he was in a taxi. He was never near the border... It was never his intention to cross the border (into Russia),” he said.

At the time of his arrival in Norway, Medvedev said he was seeking asylum because he feared for his life after witnessing the killing and mistreatment of Russian prisoners brought to the frontline in Ukraine.

In May, Medvedev posted a video online in which he said he wished to return to Russia – but that doing so would pose a risk to his life.

He described himself as “some kind of a boy in a big game" that he no longer wanted to be part of.

Mr Risnes said that his client could return to Russia if he wanted to, but that “a lot of changes need to happen” in order to make a safe return.

In April, Medvedev was convicted in Norway of involvement in a bar fight and of carrying an air gun but was acquitted of committing violence against police.