Russia’s Wagner Group Now Accused of Kidnapping Students to Send to Ukraine newsusface

A 23-year-old student from Kazakhstan has been “kidnapped” by Russia’s notorious Wagner Group and forced to join the war against Ukraine, his family is alleging.

Margulan Bekenov’s mother, Almira, says she’s already appealed to military prosecutors, police in both Russia and Kazakhstan, and the presidents of both countries—but to no avail, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

She says her son, a student at a university in Tomsk, mysteriously wound up in a region close to the border with Ukraine last month.

“At first, we were surprised that in March, instead of Tomsk, he suddenly wound up in the Krasnodar region, supposedly having gone to see his girlfriend, who none of the family even knew. When I started to look into it, it turned out that unknown people essentially kidnapped him and recruited him into Wagner,” she said, citing her son’s friends.

“I arranged a meeting with him in Molkino, there are signs of these Wagnerites everywhere. They didn’t let me talk to my son properly, he’s in a terrible state, but he confirmed that he didn’t sign any contracts,” Bekenova was quoted saying.

Dulat Bekenov, Margulan’s uncle, told Novaya Gazeta Europe that the meeting lasted “five minutes” and his nephew was accompanied by his commander, who “interrupted the conversation the whole time.”

“Almira managed to find out from him that he did not sign a contract. He asked for food and money. He was all haggard, badly dressed. It is obvious that Margulan is being held by force,” he said.

“Warn your relatives whose children are studying in Russia,” the uncle said in comments published by Kazakh media. “Since PRIGOZHIN is no longer given convicts to make up for his losses, he’s started to snatch up Asians and recruit them into the group against their will. Damn this fucking ‘Russian World!’”

The family says the 23-year-old student was sent onto the battlefield last week.

A representative for Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry said officials were currently working to verify information from Russian authorities that Margulan Bekenov “voluntarily” signed a contract with Wagner.

The allegation comes after reports earlier this week of several draftees from Yakutia being forced into the Wagner Group against their will and sent to the embattled Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mercenary group’s founder, dismissed the claims as “nonsense,” insisting there has not been a “single case” of anybody forced to join Wagner.

But the allegations of forced recruitment appear to be piling up. Earlier this month, the independent outlet Astra reported that dozens of Russian draftees had been tossed into a factory in Ukraine’s Luhansk region and pressured—at gunpoint—to join Wagner.

Some of the men reportedly managed to send out frantic messages to family members before their phones were confiscated. “We don’t have a choice. Those who said ‘no’—they’ve already been taken away and I don’t know what is happening to them now. Wagner arrived. You see, they don’t give a fuck, they’ll kill us and dump us in the field and that’s it,” one soldier was quoted saying.

Leave a comment