The sledgehammer video from Wagner displays unparalleled brutality and mercilessness. The video was shared on the group’s semi-official Telegram channel without any sign of regret.
The recent agonizing footage emerged three months after Wagner disclosed the violent fate of Yevgeny Nuzhin, a former inmate who was recruited by the group but later turned against Russia.
The new video closely resembles Nuzhin’s execution footage. The man facing death in the video is Dmitry Yakushchenko, a convict from Russian-occupied Crimea who joined Wagner while serving a 19-year prison sentence for robbery and murder.
The Telegram post states that Dmitry was offered an opportunity for redemption and forgiveness for his crimes by becoming a part of the Wagner Group.
It further contends that Yakushchenko defected to the enemy’s side after being deployed to fight in Ukraine. During his captivity by Kyiv’s soldiers, he gave an interview to local media, which gained widespread attention in November.
The new footage starts with an excerpt from that interview, where Yakushchenko describes how he only agreed to fight for Russia in order to “find any kind of loophole” that would enable him to escape imprisonment.
As per Meduza, Yakushchenko uttered, “I went to the front as part of Wagner Group. While on the front line, I realized that this wasn’t my war. Today, I was on the streets of Dnipro, where I was hit in the head and lost consciousness. When I came to this room, they told me I would be put on trial.”
In the video, Yakushchenko is depicted sitting in a dimly lit room with his head secured to concrete blocks on the wall. A man in camouflage attire wields a sledgehammer standing behind Yakushchenko.
The screen then blurs as Yakushchenko is struck in the head with the hammer, enduring further blows as he collapses to the ground.
According to the Wagner Group, Yakushchenko contracted the same affliction as Nuzhin. This affliction involves losing consciousness in Ukrainian cities, and then awakening in the basement at the final court session.
Was Yakushchenko Fatally Assaulted in the Sledgehammer Footage?
Contrary to the portrayal in the video, Yakushchenko did not meet his demise in the sledgehammer footage. On Monday, February 13th, 2023, a subsequent video featuring the condemned man was released.
In the video, he expresses shame at being captured by Ukrainian forces, but states that he ultimately provided Moscow with information that saved numerous lives.
In the footage, Yakushchenko acknowledges that he was pardoned by the Wagner Group, for which he is immensely grateful.
His fate remains uncertain, though it is conceivable that his supposed execution was staged to cast doubt on the far more realistic-looking death video of Nuzhin.
When questioned about Yakushchenko’s execution, the founder of Wagner evaded a direct response and was observed distorting his words.