Russian Commander “Executed” Following Troop Desertion

( — Russian commander Viktor Sevalnev is reported to have been killed following desertion by his unit. The 43-year-old ex-convict was head of the 7th motorized rifle company of the Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.

The commander had apparently been hospitalized for injuries sustained in battle, and his wife was told he had died in the Donbas region on November 25th from shrapnel and head wounds. Other reports however claim Sevalnev told his wife that he feared execution, after having been abandoned by his troops.

In a recorded phone call to his wife Lilia before his death, the commander confirmed he had been wounded but was on his way to recovery. He told her that he was afraid he would be removed from the hospital and killed by Russian death squads. The recording was subsequently released to independent Russian media outlet The Insider, where he was quoted as saying “today it’s me, tomorrow another, and that’s it. We are just material to be slaughtered. The Defense Ministry shoots people”.

Sevalnev was recruited from a Russian prison to fight in Ukraine. Wagner Group, a mercenary outfit, has recruited dozens of prisoners and sent them to the front line, with the threat of death if they desert or surrender. This is the claim of the prisoner rights group Russia Behind Bars. They believe that Viktor Sevalnev was murdered because he was blamed when the soldiers of his unit deserted.

Thousands of convicted criminals have been released by Putin’s government to fight the war in Ukraine – many have met a gruesome fate. One example is Yevgeny Nuzhin who was killed by a sledgehammer blow to the head after he deserted his post. Widow Lilia Ayopova, Sevalnev’s wife, now believes her husband was killed the same way, and that he made his final call to her from a car en route to his execution.

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