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RUSSIA

Unknown perpetrator raises Russian flag at town hall of municipality in western Norway

Someone raised the Russian flag at the town hall in Øygarden, in Vestland County, on Sunday. The municipality will consider reporting the incident, the municipal chief told the newspaper Bergensavisen (BA).

Russian flag
The incident might be reported to the police. Photo by Plato Terentev / Pexels

Øygarden mayor Tom Georg Indrevik told the newspaper that the municipality received a picture of the flag earlier in the morning but thought it could have been a fake image.

However, the newspaper’s reporter visited the scene and was able to inform him that a Russian flag was indeed flying on the flagpole outside the town hall.

The mayor thus ensured that the municipal director stepped in and took the flag down.

Municipal director Johnny Breivik assumes that the person who hung the flag thought it was fun – Breivik doesn’t see what’s funny.

“We are going to consider reporting this to the police. It’s not a nice joke considering the situation in the world as it is now,” he told BA.

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RUSSIA

Alleged ex-Wagner mercenary seeks asylum in Norway

A man who claims to have been a member of Russian mercenary group Wagner is seeking asylum in Norway after escaping across the border, his lawyer said Monday.

Alleged ex-Wagner mercenary seeks asylum in Norway

Twenty-six-year-old Andrei Medvedev was arrested for illegally crossing the border to Norway near the Pasvikdalen valley last week.

Police, who did not confirm his identity, said in a statement to AFP that a man was “detained by Norwegian border guards and Norwegian police at 01:58 am
(0058 GMT)” on Friday morning.

“He has applied for asylum in Norway,” said Tarjei Sirma-Tellefsen, chief of staff for the police in Finnmark.

Rights group Gulagu.net has published interviews with Medvedev, including one after his crossing into Norway, where he detailed his dramatic escape.

“When I was on the ice (at the border), I heard dogs barking, I turned around, I saw people with torches, about 150 metres (500 feet) away, running
in my direction,” he said. “I heard two shots, the bullets whizzed by,” he added.

His lawyer Brynjulf Risnes told AFP on Monday that after crossing the border Medvedev had sought out locals and asked that they call the police.

Risnes said his client was no longer in custody, but at a “safe place” while his case was being analysed, and that he was currently suspected of
“illegal entry” into Norway.

“If he gets asylum in Norway that accusation will be dropped automatically,” Risnes said.

“He has declared that he is willing to speak about his experiences in the Wagner Group to people who are investigating war crimes,” the lawyer said, adding that Medvedev alleged he had served as a unit commander for between five and ten soldiers.

According to Gulagu.net, he originally signed a four-month contract in early July 2022 and claims to have witnessed executions and reprisals against those who refused to fight and wanted to leave.

According to Risnes, Medvedev said “he experienced something completely different from what he was expecting” after joining the private mercenary
group, which has been at the forefront of key battles in Ukraine.

Wanting to leave, he said that his contract was extended without his consent.

“He understood that there was no easy way out, so that’s when he decided to just run,” Risnes said.

Upon returning to Russia, Medvedev made contact with rights groups, including Gulagu.net which advocates for prisoners in Russian detention.

AFP has not been able to independently verify Medvedev’s account. Risnes conceded that it was hard for him to judge the merits of Medvedev’s
claims, but said “the involvement of Gulagu.net and other human rights organisations in this case is comforting.”

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