Wagner, a Russian paramilitary group, acknowledged on Tuesday that a Zambian student recruited in prison was killed in Ukraine, two weeks after Zambia demanded an explanation from Russia regarding the death of one of its citizens.
“Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda, on September 22, was one of the first to enter the enemy trenches, showing courage and bravery,” greeted on his company’s social networks the head of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Oligarch reputedly close to Vladimir Putin and became a media personality of the conflict in Ukraine, Mr. Prigozhin said he “well remembered this guy” of 23 years, “died as a hero” in combat.
For several weeks, Yevgeny Prigozhin was accused by Ukraine of sending to the front thousands of fighters recruited directly in Russian prisons, against the promise of a salary and an amnesty.
Mr. Prigozhin admitted on Tuesday that his group had recruited Mr. Nyirenda, convicted in Russia, in a prison in the Tver region, northwest of Moscow.
He said the young Zambian had volunteered to join Wagner and fight in Ukraine.
Zambia had asked Moscow in mid-November for an explanation for the death of one of its nationals in Ukraine, where Russia has been conducting a military offensive since February.
According to the Zambian government, Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda was initially a student of nuclear engineering at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhI).
He had been sentenced to nine years and six months in prison after being convicted of violating Russian law in April 2020, according to the same source.