Two Russians claiming to be former Wagner commanders admit killing children and civilians in Ukraine
The Wagner Group is a Russian paramilitary group.
Two Russian men claiming to be former Wagner Group leaders have admitted to a human-rights activist that they murdered children and civilians in Ukraine.
These claims were made during video interviews conducted by Gulagu.net - a human rights group that targets corruption and torture in Russia.
Former Russian convicts Azamatuldarov, and Alexey Savchev, who were both pardoned last year by Russian presidential decrees, describe their actions during the invasion of Ukraine in video interviews posted on Gulagu.net.
CNN has not independently verified the identities or claims of those in the videos, but obtained Russian criminal documents that show they were pardoned by President Putin in September and August 2022.
Uldarov explains how he killed the girl, aged between five and six, while he was apparently drinking.
It was a decision made by management. He said that he was not allowed to let anyone go alive because his command was to kill everything in his way.
Gulagu.net claims that the testimony was given over a period of one week to the founder and Russian dissident Vladimir Osechkin. Uldarov was in Russia at the time of their testimony, according to Gulagu.net.
I want Russia and the other nations to be informed of the truth. I do not want bloodshed or war. In this hand, you can see me holding a cigarette. Uldarov explained his motive for the interview: 'I followed orders and killed children with this hand.
The Wagner Group, a Russian private mercenary group fighting in Ukraine under the leadership of Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prgozhin.
The group has recruited tens and thousands of fighters in Russian prisons. They offer freedom and money after a six month tour. Western intelligence officials estimate that between 40,000 to 50,000 men have been recruited.
Uldarov stated that in the eastern Ukrainian towns of Soledar, Bakhmut and other cities which have witnessed some of the most fierce fighting, Wagner mercenaries were 'given the command to destroy everyone'
Prigozhin is the superior of all commanders, he said. Prigozhin told him not to let anyone leave and annihilate everybody. CNN reported previously on former Wagner fighters who made similar claims.
Savichev said in an interview that they were 'ordered to execute all men over 15 years old'.
He talked about being ordered to'sweep a house'. It doesn't really matter if there's a civilian in the house or not. The house must be cleaned. He said, 'I didn't care who was in the house.
He said, "Whether it was a hut, or a home, the goal was to ensure that no one alive remained inside." You can blame me for it. I won't object. You have the right. But I also wanted to live.
Savichev claimed that Wagner fighters who failed to follow orders were killed.
CNN interviewed two former Wagner fighters in February. They described how Wagner convicts were pushed into the frontlines, similar to World War I charges. They said deserters or those who refused orders were killed, and that there was no evacuation for the wounded.
When asked about the 1,17-hour video and its men, Wagner Group Chief Prigozhin said he did not have the 'technical capability' to view the whole thing.
In his Telegram response, he said: "Regarding the shooting of children and civilians, it is obvious that no one does this. Absolutely no one needs it." We went there to rescue them from their regime.
Andriy Yeermak, the head of the Ukrainian President's Office, stated in a Monday tweet that the group should be held accountable.
"Russian terrorists confessed numerous murders of Ukrainian kids in Bakhmut, Soledar. The confession is not sufficient. A punishment must be given. It must be fair and tough. It will be. How many other crimes have been committed like this? He said.
In January, the US Treasury Department designated Wagner Group a significant criminal transnational organization and imposed new sanctions on its transnational support network.
According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the US Department of State announced sanctions that would 'target Wagner's infrastructure, including an aviation company used by Wagner, Wagner propaganda organizations, and Wagner front firms'.