I saw dad being executed with a hammer like an animal by Putin’s thugs in horror vid – words can't describe how I felt | The SunNovember 17, 2022
THE family of a conscript sledgehammered to death by Putin's private army have told of of their anguish over video of the barbaric execution.
Yevgeny Nuzhin, 55, defected to Ukraine but was then reportedly kidnapped and sent back to the merciless Wagner group thugs in Russia.
Convicted killer Nuzhin – who was recruited from a penal colony in Russia – was seen on camera with his head taped to a brick wall.
Graphic footage then showed him being struck several times with a sledgehammer in a savage "medieval" execution.
The video – titled “Hammer of Vengeance” – was posted on Wagner-linked Telegram channel The Grey Zone, apparently as a warning to other conscripts what to expect for deserting their units.
Nuzhin's family were "horrified" when they saw it, his traumatised son Ilya, 31, told Russian human rights group Gulagu.net.
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He said: “Our whole family was in tears watching the video.
“He was killed without a court investigation. He was murdered like an animal.”
He added: “I started watching it with my wife. She shrieked with horror and I started to shake when I saw that.
“The whole family cried, even those who didn’t like him.
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“No one deserves this. Even though he was a convict, he served more than 20 years. He was unarmed, a prisoner of war.”
Nuzhin was nearing the end of a 24-year stretch for a 1999 murder when he was recruited by one of Putin's closest cronies.
His family said Yevgeny Prigozhin – the head of the Wagner group dubbed "Putin's chef" – visited Ryazan's Penal Colony No3 near Moscow in mid-August.
After a week's training, Nuzhin and around 100 other inmates were then sent to the front on August 27, reports say.
But days after arriving he turned himself over to Ukrainian soldiers.
In September he was filmed him saying his Wagner unit was "cannon fodder" and he wanted to defect because he could not go to war against his relatives who live in Ukraine.
Second son Nikita, 27, said he had begged his ex-soldier dad not to sign up to fight with the mercenaries.
He told German paper Bild: "Both his current wife and I advised him not to go to Ukraine.
"We begged him not to do it. But he remained stubborn and just told me that I didn't understand it all."
He added: "I haven't had any contact with my father since he went to the front. That's why it's difficult for me to assess what made him switch sides.
"I was shown the video at the time and his wife got a call from Ukraine that her husband was there now.
"The shock was all the greater when the second video appeared last Saturday, showing how his head was smashed in.
"To this day, I cannot find the words to describe how I felt in that moment when I first saw my father, who was bound, being executed.”
Both sons – who served in the Russian army while their father was in jail – hit out at authorities.
They are trying to find out what happened to his body but "nobody can help us", Nikita said.
He added: “The Ministry of Defence tells me basically nothing can be answered about the people of the Wagner group.
"We want to give him a decent burial."
There is uncertainty over how Nizhin ended up back in Russia.
In the execution video, he said he was hit over the head while walking in Ukraine capital Kyiv last week, and "woke up in this basement".
However his eldest son Ilya believes he may have been handed over as part of a prisoner swap with Russia.
He said: “The man wanted to live, he wanted to get back to his family. [Ukrainians] you gave him away to our men.
“I can only say one thing. Our men are fascists – but theirs are just the same.”
Catering tycoon Progizhin voiced his approval for the vile video, calling Nuzhin a “traitor” and a “dog”.
He said: “Nuzhin betrayed his people, betrayed his comrades, betrayed consciously.”
The Kremlin distanced itself from the video on Monday. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “It was not our business”.
However human rights campaigner Vladimir Osechkin said: “Wagner would have not been able to commit this medieval execution without the approval of the Russian security services.
“There are many questions and I hope we get to the bottom of this.
“Ukraine had a responsibility towards Nuzhin and he should have not been exchanged, given the dangers he faced in Russia.”
The lawless Wagner group – accused of sickening war crimes – has recruited thousands of prisoners for Putin's disastrous invasion.
They are promised their records will be wiped clean and their families will get five million roubles (£70,000) if they are killed.
But they are warned they face summary execution if they try to desert.
Some Wagner recruits have been captured wearing sinister colour-coded wristbands showing if they have HIV or other viruses.
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Last month, a notorious Russian mobster was reportedly executed after trying to flee the frontline.
Mafia boss Zaur Aliyev, 47, was serving 18 years in a penal colony when he was freed under the controversial scheme.
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