Russian convicts Alexey Chernyavsky (left) and Maxim Zelenov (right) (Picture: east2west/Gulagu.net)
Former prisoners from the Irkutsk region, Alexey Chernyavsky and Maxim Zelenov, fought in the Donetsk region after signing contracts with the PMC in November last year.
Like thousands of others, they were pardoned of their crimes by Vladimir Putin to be deployed to villages near the eastern city of Soledar for what they described as ‘cleansing’.
The ex-convicts recalled how the warlord personally taught his fighters how to kill ‘Wagner-style’ when invading.
They made the sickening claims in an interview with Russian human rights activist Vladimir Osechkin, founder of Gulagu.net.
‘Who gave the order about two grenades into a window and two grenades into a door, and then walk in and finish off [the wounded]?’ he asked them.
Zelenov replied: ‘Prigozhin himself’.
Osechkin asked: ‘Among those killed, how many elderly, adult people, and how many children were there?’
The Wagner fighter told him: ‘When we got to that five-storey block of flats, we definitely killed about 40 people.’
Chernyavsky was ordered to kill all civilians because they are Ukrainian
Zelenov said this was the ‘Wagner style’
Meanwhile, Chernyavsky said he was ordered to ‘be prepared that once you enter houses, you will have to kill women and children’.
‘No matter who, they would all have to be killed because they are Ukrainians,’ he recalled.
‘They were saying that when we take over towns and villages, and get into houses, we will be killing women and children.
‘Before entering premises, we had to throw a grenade, then get inside and if there were women and children inside who are wounded, not killed, then to finish them off – because they are Ukrainians.
‘We had to kill everyone. We are Wagner, we kill everyone.’
After the shock of what they witnessed in Ukraine, Zelenov and Chernyavsky fled from the Wagner camp.
Fearing execution with a sledgehammer – the way in which Prigozhin traditionally treated deserters -or arrest and return to the colony, the two hid for more than eight months.
But after the murder of Wagner boss, they contacted Gulagu.net and testify about the group’s war crimes.
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Warning: this article contains sensitive material which may make upsetting reading for some people