A Russian colonel has claimed Wagner mercenaries are raping, kidnapping and torturing Vladimir Putin’s soldiers.
Lt-Colonel Roman Venevitin, who was captured near the embattled Ukrainian city of Bakhmut by Wagner, claimed he was tortured by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mercenaries.
Venevitin claimed Wagner forces, who are supposed to be on Russia’s side in the war, kidnapped Russian soldiers before torturing and raping them.
‘Wagner mercenaries stole two T-80 tanks, 4 cannons, a KAMAZ truck and armoured vehicles,’ Venevitin said. ‘The Wagner mercenaries took them as war trophies [even though we are supposed to be on the same side].’
In an extraordinary claim, Venevitin said: ‘There were kidnappings of our servicemen, when they were physically abused and humiliated. One of our battalion’s petty officers was kidnapped and tortured.
‘He was kept naked on a cold floor in a basement.’
Russian Lt-Colonel Roman Venevitin claimed Wagner forces, who are supposed to be on Russia’s side in the war, kidnapped Russian soldiers before torturing and raping them.
Venevitin claimed Wagner mercenaries (pictured with Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in Bakhmut) are raping, kidnapping and torturing Vladimir Putin’s soldiers
Venevitin alleged: ‘They sprayed acid into his eyes, so he temporarily lost vision, he was doused with petrol and tried to burn him.
‘One of the serviceman was beaten up and raped by Wagner mercenaries. He couldn’t survive the humiliation, and killed himself.’
He also accused Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin of discrediting the Russian army – a crime which could see him jailed – in the video that was orchestrated by Putin’s top brass.
Venevitin said kidnapped Russian soldiers were traded back to Putin’s army in return for ammunition, which Wagner claims the Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had failed to provide for them.
Or the Russian soldiers were used as ‘slaves to load [dead bodies] and [wounded soldiers]’, or forced to sign contracts leaving the army for Wagner, Venevitin said.
‘This weakened the Russian flanks in the Battle of Bakhmut,’ Venevitin said.
Apparently reading his statement to the camera, he said of Prigozhin: ‘You are engaged in active discrediting of the Russian Armed Forces.’
This allegation hints at the authorities preparing to charge Prigozhin.
‘I [am speaking] to convey to the Russian public the truth about what happened, to tell some facts about the so-called Wagner,’ he said. ‘Honour requires me to do this.’
Venevitin said he was himself was tortured by Wagner mercenaries when he was kidnapped. Wagner forces had accused the Russian officer of opening fire at them as they pulled back from Bakhmut.
‘I was tortured inside a basement when I was captured,’ he said. ‘They tortured me worse than an angry Russian soldier would treat a captive Ukrainian.
‘I was beaten up, deprived of sleep, three times a night I was forced outside where they staged an execution by firing [squad].’
Earlier this week, video emerged of Venevitin being captured by Wagner in the latest example of bitter infighting in the Russian ranks.
Venevitin was seen hanging his head in a humiliating video posted by the Wagner group in which he confessed his ‘guilt’ and admitted to being drunk on duty after allegedly shooting at a Wagner vehicle.
The shooting damaged a Ural supply truck but did not wound any Wagner soldiers, according to the private army.
Venevitin also confessed to leading a group of ten to 12 Russian army soldiers who ‘disarmed’ a Wagner rapid response group.
This followed claims by the mercenaries that the regular Russian army targeted their ranks with mines, as a clip showed their sappers clearing the explosive devices from a road.
Wagner mercenaries have been fighting for Putin in Ukraine and are credited with seizing the embattled city of Bakhmut from Ukrainian armed forces after months of bloody warfare.
But their success has seemingly angered regular Russian army commanders.
Wagner chief Prigozhin has launched several verbal tirades at Putin’s military leaders. He has accused them of ordering their troops to retreat from their positions and leaving Wagner fighters unprotected on the frontlines.
In Prigozhin’s latest rant, he claimed Russia may nuke its own territory in the Belgorod region where anti-Putin insurgents are causing havoc.
Yevgeny Prigozhin warned Russia might be forced to unleash nuclear weapons on its Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, where pro-Ukrainian Russian volunteer units have conducted a series of cross-border raids and reportedly taken hostages
Prigozhin warned Russia might be forced to unleash nuclear weapons on its Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, where pro-Ukrainian Russian volunteer units have conducted a series of cross-border raids and reportedly taken hostages.
Prigozhin, who has been highly critical of the Russian army, said Putin’s forces could be retreating from the region because the Kremlin wants to ‘drop a tactical nuclear bomb on their own territory’.
In recent weeks, pro-Kyiv paramilitary groups of Russians who have been fighting alongside Ukrainian forces have launched forays over the border into Russian territory, attacking the Belgorod region.
Prigozhin’s latest rant came after he slammed claims by the Russian defence ministry it had killed 1,500 of Kyiv’s soldiers in two days in the embattled city of Bakhmut as ‘absurd science fiction’.
In remarks published on the Telegram channel of his press service, the 61-year-old said to kill that many Ukrainian troops would require daily gains of 150km (93 miles).
‘I therefore believe that this is simply wild and absurd science fiction,’ said Prigozhin.
Totting up the figures provided by the ministry would imply ‘we have already destroyed the entire planet five times over,’ he added sarcastically.
Prigozhin last week lambasted Russia’s military leaders after Ukrainian armed forces managed to retake settlements on the outskirts of Bakhmut.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has launched several verbal tirades at Putin’s military leaders. He has accused them of ordering their troops to retreat from their positions and leaving Wagner fighters unprotected on the frontlines
Prigozhin said it was a ‘disgrace’ that Kyiv’s troops were able to push back Russian lines and seize Berkhivka, a town in the northern suburbs of the embattled city.
The mercenary figurehead hit out at Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu and army chief Valery Gerasimov, taunting them and urging them to go to the frontlines and see the failures for themselves as the armed factions spiral towards civil war.
‘Now part of the settlement of [Berkhivka] has already been lost, the troops are slowly falling back. What a disgrace!
‘Shoigu, Gerasimov, I urge you to come to the front, raise your pistols at your men to make them go forward. Come on, you can!
‘And if you can’t, then you will die as heroes.’
Prigozhin has launched several verbal tirades at Putin’s military leaders. He has accused them of ordering their troops to retreat from their positions and leaving Wagner fighters unprotected on the frontlines.
Last week, Prigozhin unleashed an explosive tirade of abuse at Putin’s cronies after Moscow was attacked by suspected Ukrainian kamikaze drones.
In a furious 70-second rant, Prigozhin screamed vulgar insults at Russia’s defence officials, whom he described as ‘smelly scumbags’ and ‘b*******’.
The Wagner boss said he was ‘deeply outraged’ by Putin’s troops doing ‘f*** all’ to prevent explosive drones falling on the Russian capital this morning. Shortly after, Putin claimed that Moscow’s air defence system worked ‘satisfactorily’.
Known for his foul-mouthed rants, Prigozhin, who handed Bakhmut over to Russia’s army last week, was translated as shouting: ‘Smelly scumbags! What are you doing? Get your a**** up from the offices you’ve been put in to protect this country.
‘You are the Ministry of Defence. You’ve done f*** all in order to advance. Why the f*** are you allowing these drones to fly to Moscow? Who gives a s*** that they are flying to your homes on Rublyovka! Let your houses burn.’
‘And what should ordinary people do when drones with explosives crash into their windows? So as a citizen, I am deeply outraged that these scum sit quietly with their fat a**** smeared with expensive creams.
‘And that’s why I think the people have every right to ask them these questions, these b*******.
‘But I have already warned about this many times, but no one wants to listen. Because I’m angry and I upset bureaucrats who have a great life.’
His astonishing meltdown came after several buildings in the wealthy suburbs of Moscow were damaged by suspected Ukrainian kamikaze drones, just hours after Putin unleashed yet another volley of strikes on Kyiv.
Prigozhin’s outbursts highlight the rift inside the Kremlin forces fighting Ukraine, and some analysts see civil war as a possibility in Russia if Putin loses the war.
Despite huge losses, and a ban on recruiting prisoners from Russia’s penal colonies, Prigozhin is still thought to have up to 60,000 men at his disposal.
Wagner is one of several private armies in Russia. Chechen warlord leader Ramzan Kadyrov controls a heavily armed group of his own, and Russian energy giant Gazprom has set up its own private military company.
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