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Two Russians claiming to be Wagner mercenaries admit to killing children in Ukraine

A mural depicting mercenaries of Russia's Wagner Group that reads: "Wagner Group - Russian knights" on a wall in Belgrade, Serbia.
A mural depicting mercenaries of Russia's Wagner Group that reads: "Wagner Group - Russian knights" on a wall in Belgrade, Serbia. Copyright Darko Vojinovic/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Darko Vojinovic/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
By Sophia Khatsenkova
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During the hourlong confessions, ex-Wagner commanders recounted details of killings around Bakhmut and Soledar.

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Two Russian former convicts who claim they served as commanders for the Wagner mercenary group have apparently confessed to murdering hundreds of civilians, including children, in Ukraine. 

Both of the men gave interviews to an exiled human rights activist who runs the website Gulagu.net, which reports on corruption and torture in Russia.

The former convicts -- Azamat Uldarov and Alexey Savichev -- were pardoned by Russian presidential decrees last year, according to Gulagu.net.

In an hour-long confession, the men describe their actions in Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022, including executing 60 wounded prisoners, some of whom were Russian soldiers who refused to continue fighting.

The men say these events took place in Soledar and Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine's Donestk region in February 2023. However, Euronews could not independently verify these claims. 

"We got the order to kill anyone"

Azamat Uldarov and Alexey Savichev both claim they decided to come clean due to feelings of guilt. One of the ex-mercenaries describes harrowing scenes of killing a child.

"As we entered Soledar and Bakhmut, we got the order to kill anyone: men, women, children, the elderly. A little girl was screaming. She must have been five or six years old. I shot her. A kill shot straight in the head.”

“I want Russia and other nations to know the truth. I don’t want war and bloodshed. You see I’m holding a cigarette in this hand. I followed orders with this hand and killed children,” Azamat Uldarov said.

The ex-convicts said they received their kill orders directly from Wagner Group boss Evgeniy Prigozhin. 

Wagner is a Russian private mercenary organisation and has thousands of fighters from Russian prisons, in exchange for promises of pardons or reduced sentences if they survive.

The activist who interviewed the men published documents as proof the pair had spent time fighting in Ukraine. They apparently returned back to Russia with medals and money. 

When confronted with these claims, Evgeniy Prigozhin’s press service on Telegram released a statement saying: “Regarding the execution of children, of course, no one ever shoots civilians or children, we don't need to do that. We came there to save the Ukrainians from the regime they are under.”

The video caused a stir on social media with many politicians reacting to it. The head of the Ukrainian Presidential office tweeted, saying:  “Confession is not enough. There must be a punishment. Tough and fair. And it will definitely be. How many more crimes like these have been committed?”

Ukrainian prosecutors have started an investigation based on the ex-soldiers' interviews.

The confession comes as a disturbing video was shared online last week allegedly showing a Wagner mercenary decapitating a Ukrainian prison of war. 

Ukraine has promised to investigate the gruesome video circulating on social media.

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