Russia: Army lieutenant colonel accuses Wagner of violent acts on Russian soldiers

This is an unprecedented escalation of the conflict between Wagner and the regular army and a crossing of red lines never seen by Yevgeny Prigozhin. On Monday, June 5, the Wagner group released a video that was shot on May 17 and in which was exhibited, face swollen and exhausted, the lieutenant-colonel of the Russian army Roman Venevitine. A video shot under duress according to this lieutenant-colonel who accuses Wagner not only of having tortured him, but also of having multiplied these behaviors during the battle of Bakhmut.

Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin speaks to members of the paramilitary group in Bakhmut, in an image from a video posted on May 25, 2023. © "Concord" press service, via Reuters

Text by: Anissa El Jabri Follow


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From our correspondent in Moscow

Nothing described here is verifiable on the ground. But these two videos released three days apart show an unprecedented level of tension and violence between the Wagner paramilitary group and the regular forces. In the video released by Wagner on Monday, Roman Venevitine, a senior regular force officer questioned by a Wagner jailer, said he deliberately targeted a unit of the mercenary group with his artillery as it cleared a road leading to Bakhmut "out of personal animosity."

A video that would have been shot under duress, according to Roman Venevitine.

In a ten-minute video published by a media reputed to be close to the security services on Thursday, June 8, officer Roman Venevitine explains that he was kidnapped, beaten and threatened with death. He also describes the extremely violent behind-the-scenes of the Battle of Bakhmut, from the theft of Russian army equipment by mercenaries such as tanks, to direct violence against soldiers:


For example, they once kidnapped and threatened to kill soldiers from a signal unit, only because they did not like the way they worked. There have been other abductions of our fighters, where physical violence has been used, humiliation and violation of dignity. In another kidnapping, one of our sergeants was tortured naked, kept in a freezing cellar. They doused his eyes with acid and other chemicals, causing him to temporarily lose his sight, poured gasoline on him, lit a lighter and repeatedly pretended they were going to burn him alive.


How could we have come to this? Officer Venevitin has his reading of the events: "Anarchism on the front line with the private company Wagner is the result of the game of the political elites who, instead of strengthening our president, weaken him. I am convinced that this is a temporary phenomenon.


In his text, the officer addresses Wagner's leader: "Yevgeny Viktorovich [Prigozhin], you are actively discrediting the Russian armed forces." A crime punishable in Russia by up to five years in prison in Russia.

>> Read also: Yevgeny Prigozhin, one of the faces of the "special operation" abroad, but not in Russia

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