Two men who claimed to be commanders of Russian units of the Wagner mercenary group have confessed to killing children, women and pensioners in Vladimir Putin’s war with Ukraine.
The horrific videos saw the pair recount the alleged executions of more than 20 Ukrainian children and teens, and the bombing of a pit into which more than 50 wounded Ukrainian prisoners were dumped.
Among the other dead, they said, were those who refused to fight in Putin’s war.
The couple — who said they were recruited as convicts pardoned by Putin in August after spending six months with Wagner — admitted that in carrying out the orders, they killed everyone — women and men, pensioners and children.
They claimed that Wagner’s boss – Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed Putin’s “chef” – personally gave orders for the executions and murders.
The terrifying videos show the two men – Aleksey Savichev (left) and Azamat Oldarov (right) recounting the alleged executions of more than 20 Ukrainian children and teens, and the blowing up of a pit into which more than 50 wounded Ukrainian prisoners were dumped.
One of the commanders, Azma Oldruff, said that he killed a five-year-old boy on order.
He revealed that he had shot a five-year-old girl in the head, in a confession to an exiled Russian human rights organization called gulagu.net.
He said: She was screaming, she was a little girl, do you understand?
She was about five or six years old, and I shot, you understand, the control shot, because I wasn’t supposed to let anyone go. That was it.
He explained, “We’re killing each other, and I have no idea why. I simply can not understand. I want to cry. But I won’t cry, I’m so tired, I’m crying for the second day …
“If I told you the whole truth about what’s going on out there, your hair would stand on end.”
He spoke of heinous atrocities in Solidar and Bakhmut. The Battle of the eastern city of Bakhmut saw the bloodiest battle of the war to date, with Wagner heavily involved in Russia’s attempts to gain control.
The nearby village of Solidar was captured earlier this year, with the Wagner leader infuriating the Kremlin by claiming that only his forces were responsible.
“We were ordered to” clean up “and destroy everyone,” Uldarov said.
We arrived with the last batch of Wagnerites, 150 people. And we are ordered to destroy on the way alone and to stand on the defensive by any means. We went and killed everyone.
“There were women and men, grandparents, pensioners and children,” he said.
Another commander, Alexei Savichev, said that after the journalists’ visit, he and another comrade were ordered to massacre civilians.
He said he knew of at least 70 executions of Russians by Russians.
He claimed that they were killed because they refused to fight or they refused to kill civilians.
Civilians were leaving. And there was an order: everyone 15 (years old) and older – be shot once without a word.
20 to 24 people were shot, including 10 people between the ages of 15 and 17. How many were shot? Maybe 24 people, maybe 20 people.
He said they were forced to “follow orders” out of fear that they would be sent back to prison if they did not. If they reported the atrocities to journalists, he said, a commander told them they would be “immediately lost.”
The two men who confessed are said to be in Russia now, and this – if true – puts them in danger of imprisonment or worse.
The couple alleged that Wagner’s boss – Yevgeny Prigozhin, aka Putin’s “chef” (pictured earlier this month) – personally ordered the executions and the killings. Wagner’s mercenaries admit to killing women and children
Smoke is seen in this drone footage of Bakhmut amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in this screenshot obtained from a video post released on April 15.
In November, Russian prisoner turned Wagner fighter Yevgeny Nozin — who changed sides in the Ukraine war — was executed with a sledgehammer in a gruesome video circulating online. Prigozhin called Nogin a traitor, with a close ally of Putin saying that “a dog receives the death of a dog” in response to the clip.
A second Wagner deserter – Dmitry Yakushenko – was killed in the same way in February of this year. His death is seen in a second, equally shocking video.
“Azamat and Alexei are in Russia, 100 percent not under any influence from the Ukrainian secret service, the CIA or anyone else,” said Vladimir Usychkin, head of the human rights group Gulago.
He believes that “the horrific details of the execution of more than 20 Ukrainian children and adolescents[and]the explosion of a pit containing more than 50 wounded prisoners amount to irrefutable evidence of war crimes.”
And also the killing of those who reject the war and the “cleansing” of residential buildings – “the killing of everyone, including children.”
Savichev said that in Bakhmut in January – “near the barracks, next to the jam factory” – he was ordered to throw grenades into a ditch filled with dozens of wounded and dead, and then burn the corpses with gasoline and diesel fuel.
The dead were Russians and Ukrainians.
He said, “I carried out the order and left.”
The two former commanders of Wagner’s special military units said that Yevgeny Prigozhin personally issued criminal orders to carry out executions and killings, and also approved terrorist methods and cruelty.
Commenting on an infamous video showing the beheading of a military man, he said it was “nonsense” compared to what happened in the background.
When asked how many shots he saw, Savichev said: “I will tell the truth. I do not want to deceive you or myself. About 70 people were shot.
He said that among those executed were prisoners from a correctional colony in Russia’s Voronezh region.
Oldatov spoke about his motives in revealing the details.
Pictured: Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is seen with fighters in a video in February, in which he claimed his mercenaries had captured the town of Solidar
Pictured: A soldier is seen from the window of the PMC Wagner Center during the official opening of the office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, November 4
I want to punish everyone. I want Russia and other countries to know the truth. He said: I don’t want war, I don’t want bloodshed.
Do you see me holding a cigarette in my hand? I carried out the order with this hand, killing the children. understood? by order.
What we did when we went to Solidar and Bakhmut, that was the scene. We have been given the order to clean up and kill everyone.
He was asked: Who gave such orders?
He said: From above. I had (commander) Korshon. (inaudible).
This is the first leader. Then Korshon. And above them (Evgeny) Prigozhin, who told us not to let anyone out, and to kill everyone.
Uldarov – who was in tears – said that he took part in the massacre of civilians on March 18 in Bakhmut.
“There were about 300, including about 40 children,” he said. We have been ordered to kill everyone. It was in the basement of a nine-story apartment building. The order came from Prigozhin. “No prisoners.”
“We are people of the same religion…. I don’t understand why we are killing each other.”
He said the empty coffins were returned to Russia because nothing was left of some of the victims.
Prigozhin called Usichkin “insane and degenerate”.
“About shooting children – of course no one shoots civilians or children, no one needs it at all,” he said in response to the confessions.
We went there to save them from the system they were ruling. And he added in the video: “We have never touched (the children) and do not touch. This is a huge lie.
He said that one of those allegedly killed by the former unit commanders was still alive.
Pictured: Vladimir Useshkin, Russian human rights activist and founder of Gulagu.net. Upon issuing the confessions by his rights organization, he said he had no reason to believe the two were under the influence of the Russian security services.
Confessions of a Mercenary Wagner is by no means the first time that horrific Russian war crimes have been reported.
Within the first month of the war, reports were already coming in from Ukraine of Russian soldiers executing civilians, and Kiev was accusing Moscow of genocide.
And national headlines ran news of the death of a number of civilians in the Kiev suburb of Pusha, after the withdrawal of Russian forces from the area in March 2022.
Hundreds of corpses were found in the town, including some with hands tied behind their backs and apparently executed.