A lieutenant-colonel within the Russian military has come forward with shocking claims that the Wagner Group, a notorious mercenary organization, routinely kidnaps Russian soldiers and subjects them to torture.
Roman Vinivitin, formerly the commander of Russia’s 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade, was recently paraded in an interrogation video released by Wagner, where he was accused of drunkenly firing at the mercenaries.
In a video released by independent Russian news outlets on Thursday, Vinivitin directly addresses Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, publicly calling him out.
“Yevgeny Viktorovich, you are openly discrediting the Russian Armed Forces,” he asserts in the 11-minute footage.
Vinivitin goes on to reveal that the mercenary group essentially operates in opposition to the regular army, even though both factions are supposedly united in combatting Ukrainian forces.
“From the moment we were deployed to the [Bakhmut] area, tensions with the Wagnerites arose immediately,” he shares. “Their audacious behavior, constant threats of elimination and death, and provocative actions not only provoked conflicts with our fighters but also led to specific incidents.”
“Soldiers were abducted and subjected to horrific torture. In one instance, a soldier was confined in a cold basement, where acid and chemicals were maliciously splashed into his eyes, temporarily causing him to lose his sight.
They doused him with gasoline, brandishing a lighter in an attempt to set him ablaze,” Vinivitin discloses.
“Another soldier, released after being brutally beaten, tragically took his own life out of sheer hopelessness,” Vinivitin adds.
“We had instances where fighters were kidnapped and used as bargaining chips for ammunition. Some were treated as ‘slaves,’ forced to handle the storage of the deceased and wounded.
There were even cases of soldiers being kidnapped and coerced into signing contracts with Wagner, thereby weakening the flanks of Bakhmut and compromising our defense.”
Vinivitin further recounts an incident where a soldier was abducted, assaulted, and left bound while Wagnerites stole his vehicle.
The lieutenant-colonel himself fell into the clutches of the Wagner Group after its fighters obstructed his path while he was conducting inspections of his units.
“As a military officer, I couldn’t tolerate such actions,” he asserts. “Consequently, the Wagner employees were disarmed and directed away… They were told to get lost!”
In horrifying detail, Vinivitin describes his own harrowing experience while held captive by the group. “I was subsequently captured, confined in a basement, subjected to relentless physical abuse that not even a severely embittered Russian soldier would inflict upon a captured Ukrainian soldier.
I endured beatings, sleep deprivation, and was dragged out of the basement three times each night, where attempts were made on my life,” he reveals.
Directly addressing the mercenary group, he adds, “You and I both know that you possess a video documenting my torture and mistreatment.”
Vinivitin then turns his attention back to Yevgeny Prigozhin, expressing his discontent with the Wagner Group’s actions on the frontline, which have brought amusement to Ukrainians.
“Prigozhin was the first to publicly reveal these internal conflicts and turn them into a political spectacle. Therefore, I have every right to voice my perspective on the situation,” he proclaims, accusing Wagner of sowing chaos and disorder at the frontline.
Prigozhin, however, denies the claims that Vinivitin was held captive, instead asserting that he was “detained for investigation.”