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Govt demands explanation from Russia – over death of Zambian student on Russia/Ukraine battle line

By KALOBWE BWALYA 

Government has written to the Russian government demanding explanation on how a Zambian serving a jail sentence in that country found himself at the battlefront where he died.

Foreign Affairs and International Relations minister, Stanley Kakubo, said he was saddened by the death of the Zambian student Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda 23 who was killed on the battlefront of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Mr Nyirenda was a government sponsored student who was pursuing nuclear engineering at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPHI) in the Russian federation.

Mr Kakubo disclosed  that Mr  Nyirenda passed away on September, 22nd, 2022, in Ukraine.

Mr Kakubo explained that the embassy further established that Mr Nyirenda’s remains have since been transported to the Russian border town of Rostov in readiness for repatriation to Zambia.

He said he had been in touch with the family of the deceased in order to provide an update on  details surrounding their loved one’s death  once official communication is received from the Russian authorities.

“The ministry wishes to further state that in April 2020, Mr. Nyirenda contravened the laws of the Russian federation and as such was subsequently convicted and sentenced to nine years and six months imprisonment, he was serving his sentence at the medium security prison on the outskirts of Moscow.

It is however, not clear how, Mr Nyirenda, who was a prisoner, found himself on the battle field.

Russia dangles freedom to prisoners if they fight in Ukraine. Many are taking the deadly gamble

By Nick Paton Walsh, Daria Markina, Sebastian Shukla, Oleksandra Ochman and Darya Tarasova, CNN
Published 6:35 PM EDT, Tue August 9, 2022

CNN — 

Promises of freedom and riches are made to convicts in cramped jail cells. Frantic phone calls ensue between relatives and inmates weighing the offer. Then prisoners vanish, leaving their loved ones to sift through reports of the wounded arriving in hospitals.

This scene is playing out in the convict communities across Russia. With a regular army stretched thin after nearly six months of a disastrously executed and bloody invasion of Ukraine, there’s increasing evidence that the Kremlin is making ugly choices in its ugly war and recruiting Russia’s prisoners to fight.

Over a month-long investigation, CNN has spoken to inmates caught up in Russia’s newest recruitment scheme, along with their relatives and friends. Activists believe hundreds have been approached in dozens of prisons across Russia – from murderers to drug offenders. Some have even been taken from the prison where one high-profile American jailed in Russia, Paul Whelan, is held. His brother David said in a statement in July he had heard ten volunteers had left IK17 in Mordovia for the frontlines in Ukraine

Dozens of chat messages between relatives, reviewed by CNN, detail the tempting rewards offered to fight in Ukraine, where the risk of death is high. The latest Western assessments suggest up to 75,000 Russian troops have been killed or injured since the invasion began (a claim the Kremlin has denied). 

One prisoner spoke to CNN from his cramped jail cell, a cat crawling across bunk beds, and a fan clamped on top of an ageing television tried to cool the air between heavily barred windows. Imprisoned for multiple years for drugs offenses, he spoke on condition of anonymity using a contraband smartphone – quite common in Russia’s prison system – to outline the conditions on offer.

“They will accept murderers, but not rapists, pedophiles, extremists, or terrorists”, he said. “Amnesty or a pardon in six months is on offer. Somebody talks about 100,000 rubles a month, another 200,000. Everything is different.” He said the offer was made when unidentified men, believed to be part of a private military contractor’s firm, came to the prison in the first half of July, and that acceptance into the program would lead to two weeks of training in the Rostov region in southern Russia. While he had two years’ service in the military, he said the recruiters did not seem to insist on military experience. 

“In my case, if it’s real, then I’m all for it,” the prisoner said. “It can make a real difference for me: be imprisoned for nearly a decade, or get out in six months if you’re lucky. But that’s if you’re lucky. I just want to go home to the children as soon as possible. If this option is possible, then why not?”

The prisoner said 50 inmates had already been selected for recruitment and placed into quarantine in the prison, but he had heard that 400 applied. Rights activists working in the Russian prison system said since the start of July they had been flooded with reports from across Russia from anxious relatives, concerned of the fate of their inmates.

“In the last three weeks [in July], there is a very big wave of this project to recruit thousands of Russian prisoners and send them to the war,” said Vladimir Osechkin, head of Gulagu.net, a prisoner advocacy group. 

Osechkin said some were promised a pay-out to their families of five million rubles ($82,000) if they died, but all the financial rewards might never be honored. “There is no guarantee, there’s no real contract. It is illegal”, he said.

Source: CNN

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