Ukraine and Wagner Team Up in the Murder of Yevgeny Nuzhin
Russian liberals change their recommendation to Russian troops from surrender to desertion
Yevgeny Nuzhin was a liar, an opportunist, a murderer, and a traitor. He’s probably not going to make it into school books as an example to emulate.
He was also the victim of a murder in which his head was bashed in with a hammer without a trial, with the complicity of, not one, but two states.
Private individuals bashing in the head of another human being is supposedly something of a no-no. Not so much against the individual, but even more so against the holy state violence monopoly. Without which we are told anarchy, lawlessness and chaos are sure to follow. Yet here we had two states — at war with each other — quite happy to set up such a fate for Nuzhin.
Nuzhin had 5 years on his sentence for attempted prisonbreak and murder left to serve when he took up Wagner’s offer to fight in the Ukraine for 6 months in exchange of an amnesty.
On September 4 he was captured in unknown circumstances near Bakhmut.
Where the story takes an unusual turn is that after the capture Nuzhin started giving interviews to Ukrainians where he claimed to have only spent 2 days at the front, that he had planned to surrender from the moment he joined Wagner, and that he would love to be given the chance to fight for Ukraine.
This story was packaged with other statements that his Ukrainian captives presumably would want to hear. That Putin and Russia were the aggressors, that Wagner would execute inmates just for running their mouths, and that there was much more truth in Ukrainian war reporting than the Russian one.
Why did he do this? Did he feel himself under duress, did he think he was playing the Ukrainians, did he start enjoying the limelight?
It was probably the second interview that he gave to one Ramina Eskhakazay that sealed his fate. To his misfortune, the video went viral in Ukraine and quickly garnered 8 million views.
After learning of his death a month after interviewing him at length Eskhakazay would shrug her shoulders and call Nuzhin “a great actor”.
The first interview Nuzhin gave to one Yuri Butusov appears to be given from a cell or a cellar and Nuzhin appears weary. But the second interview to Eskhakazay is already a highly-edited, high-production affair with perfect lighting and Nuzhin is clean and in fresh clothes. He is also quicker to speak and more carefree, often speaking with a faint smile.
Ramina is a former Instagram and Playboy model who first entered public consciousness as a participant of a reality TV show. After public romance with a well-known Ukrainian singer she became the public face of a well-resourced YouTube project interviewing Ukrainian celebrities. Since the war she has expanded into jingoism. She is one of those young women fanatically determined to become famous and says she prefers interviewing men and has an easier time of it with them. (Yevgeny had spent 24 years in a prison.)
After the news of Nuzhin’s death, Eskhakazay expressed satisfaction and joy that the “ZEK” (“convict”) had been double-crossed and returned to Russia to face certain death. She justified this sentiment by saying Nuzhin’s grieving son had called the Ukrainian side “hohols” (ethnic slur) after he learned of the double-cross:
After reading this, I will say one thing: it's great that he was exchanged for our guys!
When a son calls us crests and Ukrainian hohols, they can go to hell!
And I'll say it again: don't trust the Russians. Eugene is a great example of a wonderful actor.
Bravo!!! Played very cool
And those who write to me in private messages that I am to blame for the death of a "good Russian", you can also go to hell.
The man killed almost 5!!! He gave a false interview and you believed it.
Well, guys, think about it ... they don’t give such a term for an accidental murder
I filmed issues about prisons, it would be time to learn to perceive information not through rose-colored glasses.
The only positive thing in this situation is that although ZEK took the lives of people, thanks to the exchange, our guys are now free (I won’t say how many, but more than 20).
Ours is more important than any Russian! Even a very compassionate and hypocritical one, who lies well.
Was Nuzhin really an actor?
His social media history was mostly made up of nostalgia posts about Soviet life. Interrupted a couple of times by patriotic material in 2014 and 2022.
Was Nuzhin a “great” actor?
Clearly not as great as his Ukrainian handlers and Eskhakazay.
The Wagner execution video has Nuzhin say that he was kidnapped by them in Kiev and smuggled to a secure location. This is extremely unlikely.
In fact, the Ukrainian Presidential Office admits that Kiev handed over Nuzhin to the Russians in a prisoner exchange. This casts Ukraine in a very poor light so there is no reason to disbelieve it.
The Ukrainians are denying their complicity by claiming that Nuzhin signed up for the POW exchange voluntarily, but that is once again extremely unlikely. If anything shone through about Nuzhin it was that he had a strong self-preservation drive.
He was almost certainly taken to the Russians against his will by people who knew they were taking him to certain death. That is to say that upon learning that their Wagner captive was of a particularly approval-seeking sort they encouraged Nuzhin to say more, spread his videos far and wide, and then after he had served his purpose delivered him for an execution. Despite him asking for sanctuary that they had so publicly promised. — What is more, by encouraging Nuzhin’s treason and publicizing it widely, they drove up the price for him.
Realistically the only question is did Ukraine hand over Nuzhin in an exchange with the Russian military and state, or in a direct exchange with Wagner?
Just around the time of Nuzhin’s execution, there was a Russian-Ukrainian exchange in which 45 POWs were handed over by each side.
If Nuzhin was a part of this swap it would cast Russia in a very poor light as it would mean that rather than pressing charges against Nuzhin the government handed him over to Wagner to be murdered with a hammer.
However, it is unlikely that Nuzhin would be part of a non-secret exchange, and even more unlikely that Ukraine would sully its reputation for just one POW, or that it would only be able to get one POW for a Wagnerite who had committed enthusiastic treason witnessed by 8 million.
Moreover, Ukrainian sources have said in the past that along with prisoner swaps with the Russian military, Kiev had also organized swaps with Donetsk and Lugansk, and with Wagner. Apparently, the company has its own “exchange fund” and negotiates with Kiev directly and independently of the Russian army.
Knowing this, the version that he was traded directly to Wagner in exchange for 20 or more Ukrainians as espoused by Eskhakazay appears the likeliest.
Considering all the theater (the snuff film itself and Prigozhin’s antics later on) Wagner was very motivated to get its hands on Nuzhin and easily worth 20 Ukrainians to it depending on the state of its ”exchange fund”.
On the other hand, 20 of their own would be a good haul for the Ukrainians for whom Nuzhin’s propaganda value had been exhausted. However, with trust betrayed getting this sort of cooperation from Wagner convict POWs again will be much more difficult.
Indeed the apparent Ukrainian backstab of Nuzhin caused radical Sankt-Petersburg liberals to tell Russian troops they should no longer seek to surrender but should attempt to desert instead:
However, even if the Russian state was not directly involved in the swap it can not be left off the hook entirely. First of all, allowing a private company its own communication channels and deals with Kiev is strange in itself.
Secondly, let’s not kid ourselves. The very reason the Russian government opted to release convict volunteers into the custody of Wagner rather than form penal units ran by the state is so that erring convicts could be dealt with in the legal grayzone with informal, ad-hoc measures by Wagner, rather than them having the full protection of Russian citizenship and the rule of law. It’s a similar situation as when during GWOT the CIA outsourced its torture to Third World client states.
Thirdly, it’s not as if upon the release of the Nuzhin snuff film Prigozhin was reprimanded and the Kremlin jumped to put the Sledkom on the case immediately. On the contrary, asked about it Peskov said the Kremlin had other business:
“We do not have a comment. We don’t know what this is, how true it is. It is not our business.”
This is a little bit silly?
A company in the hire of Russia announces on its Telegram it just murdered a Russian citizen, and its CEO who has Putin on speed dial publicly announces he wholeheartedly approves and the head of state is like “Well what am I supposed to do about this?”
Had Azov released a video in which they take responsibility for bashing in the head of a Russian citizen would Peskov also proclaim that this wasn’t really Kremlin’s business?
Finally, the liberals in the Human Rights Soviet presidential advisory board (rather than the Soviet itself) among them Ekaterina Vinokurova and Eva Merkacheva penned a letter to Sledkom director, asking him to investigate.
The Russian ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova then assured one media outlet that Sledkom was indeed looking into the execution video to determine guilt but also if the video depicts a killing.
Since then Sledkom’s website has reported the agency director had ordered an investigation into a Sevastopol traffic accident, a Moscow warehouse fire, negligence by the utility sector in Rostov, a Soviet war memorial sprayed with paint in Ukraine, the negligence of an oceanarium in the Far East that led to deaths of aquatic organisms including three stingrays, and over 20 other incidents.
There was no report that Sledkom was looking into the Wagner snuff video. (In February when Ukraine all of a suddenly allegedly started shelling decrepit sheds on Russian territory and planting IEDs to kill skeletons and so on, Sledkom’s website immediately screamed that the agency was on the case for each and every of such ‘incidents’.)
It is ironic that Nuzhin was a pathological liar, traitor, and a murderer, and yet he was handled with so much cowardly cynicism by both the Ukrainian and the Russian state that they end up looking worse than he does.
That’s probably why the Western media isn’t even particularly interested in the story. Sure the tabloids were all over it, but I have a feeling we’ll wait for an in-depth investigation by the “serious” press in vain. Ukraine looks far too ugly in this one for anything like that.
Bizarrely Nuzhin’s executioners in Wagner also look better than either Kiev or Moscow. Yes, they’re ISIS-lite but at least they didn’t break a promise. They promise death to deserters and that is what they delivered. But there is also a promise that supposedly comes with Russian citizenship — the right to a tribunal by the authorities. And the right that allegedly comes with Ukrainian captivity — the right of sanctuary. Instead, both washed their hands as they had his fate sealed by hooligans.
As for Ramina, with her scruples, she’ll probably be President one day.
Here where I live children are given vaccine poisons every day and they're dying of myocarditis and cancer. Youth can be seen dropping dead at their computers and on the sports fields. And it's no big deal. But some convicted murderer, traitor, and opportunist meets his fate and it's a huge deal whether or not his rights were respected. It's a very strange world.