Ex-Wagner commander to appear in Norway court, accused of resisting arrest
OSLO — A former commander in Russia’s Wagner mercenary group who fled to Norway will appear in an Oslo court on Tuesday to answer charges he was involved in a bar fight, resisted arrest and carried an air gun.
Andrei Medvedev, 26, crossed the Russian-Norwegian border in January and has spoken out about his time fighting with Russian invasion forces in Ukraine. He has applied for asylum in Norway.
In one incident he is accused of fighting with another person outside an Oslo bar on Feb. 22. When police arrived, the charge sheet said, Medvedev resisted arrest and kicked at least one officer.
In a separate incident on March 14, he is accused of bringing an air gun to a bar.
Medvedev will plead guilty to the charge of carrying an air gun, his lawyer Brynjulf Risnes said, and not guilty to some of the other charges, without specifying which.
“We hope to avoid jail time,” Risnes told Reuters. The most serious charge is resisting arrest, for which the maximum penalty could be three years in prison.
If convicted, Medvedev would not necessarily have to be expelled from Norway.
Speaking generally, immigration authorities told Reuters that, were an asylum seeker to be convicted of a violent crime, a temporary residency permit, rather than a permanent one, could still be given.
A spokesperson for the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration declined to comment specifically on Medvedev’s case.
Separately, Medvedev has continued to speak with Kripos, Norway’s criminal police service, in charge of investigating war crimes, about his time with the Wagner militia in Ukraine. Russia denies accusations of war crimes in the conflict.
“We wish to continue to question him” as a witness, Kripos said in a statement to Reuters.
Medvedev told Reuters in February he had fought in Ukraine, including in the region around Bakhmut, at the centre of months of fierce battles between Russian and Ukrainian forces that has all but destroyed the city.
Reuters could not independently verify his assertions.