Wagner mercenary Andrei Medvedev made it to Norway in January in what according to himself was a dramatic escape from FSB Border Guard troops. On Friday, he tried to make it back to Russia in Grense Jakobselv, the northernmost part of Norway’s 198 km border with Russia. Here with Kirkenes police station in the background. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Wagner defector detained by Norwegian police in attempted illegal border crossing back to Russia

I want to go back to Russia, Andrei Medvedev told the Barents Observer in Kirkenes earlier on Friday.
September 22, 2023


Andrei Medvedev was stopped Friday evening in Grense Jakobselv as he in the dark tried to make it over the border back into the Kola Peninsula.

The police in Finnmark confirms to the Barents Observer that a man in his 20s is detained and will be charged for violating the border rules. 

“We can confirm that a man is detained,” says operative commander with Finnmark Police district, Martin Marum, in a phone interview late Friday evening.

Marum says the detention happened in Grense Jakobselv. “The detention was undramatic,” he says.

Marum will not share name or nationality of the person, but says he was about to leave Norway for Russia.

It is illegal to cross the land border in the terrain.



Andrei Medvedev at the Kirkenes Airport in June 2023. Photo: Thomas Nilsen


The attempted border crossing came only few hours after Medvedev briefly met a journalist from the Barents Observer in downtown Kirkenes. The 27-year former Wagner fighter then said that he intended to cross the border and that he was looking for somebody with a car that could give him a lift.


Andrei Medvedev in a store in Kirkenes downtown ahead of his attempted illegal border crossing to Russia. Photo: Olesia Krivtsova


He looked excited, but at the same time calm and determined. He explained that he believed that he soon would be extradited to Ukraine and that a return to Russia would be a safer alternative.


Andrei Medvedev in June unsuccessfully tried to stay undercover when visiting Kirkenes. But he was discovered by the Barents Observer. Photo: Thomas Nilsen


Shortly after the conversation, he apparently managed to make it to Grense Jakobselv about 50 km from Kirkenes. In Grense Jakobselv, only a small and shallow river separates Norway and Russia. It is unclear how Medvedev made it to the area. There is no public transport to the border river.

Andrei Medvedev’s escape from Russia to Norway in mid-winter 2023 made world headlines. The mercenary had managed to enter the heavily guarded border zone on the Kola Peninsula and then cross over to Norway.


Asylum-seeking Wagner defector Andrei Medvedev in June 2023. Photo: Thomas Nilsen


Medvedev feared for his life and sought asylum in the Nordic country. He was a key witness to the Wagner Group’s torture and killings  in Ukraine and quickly confirmed that he was ready to testify in court against his former Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. 

In June, Medvedev was back in Kirkenes. In an interview with the Barents Observer, he underlined that he had no plans whatsoever to return to Russia. He also admitted he was afraid of being sent to Ukraine. 

In July, the former warrior was again back in Kirkenes. In a second conversation with the Barents Observer he then repeated that he had no plans to return to Russia.




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