A gruesome video published on Monday purported to show a Russian mercenary who fled the battlefield in Ukraine being executed with a sledgehammer; however, the group responsible for the alleged execution later claimed that the footage was staged and for “fun.”
The dist_rbing video, titled “Video from the court for treason,” depicts a man identified as Dmitry Yakushchenko with his head t-ped to a concrete wall block.
As the victim explains that he was abducted in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, an unidentified camouflage-clad man wielding a sledgehammer stands behind him.
The man who identifies himself as Yakushchenko says, “I intended to find a loophole, as they say, in order to flee,” adding that “it was not his war.”
The video then blurs as the executioner raises the sledgehammer and swings it into the victim’s skull.
The victim is then depicted collapsing backwards while a caption reads, “The court session is adjourned.”
Grey Zone, a Telegram channel affiliated with the Wagner mercenary group — a Russian paramilitary organization that advertises itself as Russia’s most ruthless fighting force — shared the video on social media.
The footage has not been verified, but the vicious gang reportedly adopted the sledgehammer as its symbol after using it to ex-cute a defector from its ranks the previous year.
Wagner’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed the footage was taken for “fun” hours after the sickening film was shared.
“Ksenia, don’t take everything so sadly,” he said in response to a request for confirmation from reporter Kseniya Sobchak, who operates the Russian news outlet Ostorozhno Media.
“The children enjoy themselves. You believed that the Yakushchenko film was a one-part drama… We can share the next series with you if you desire,” he added.
Prigozhin then published a video of “Yakushchenko” standing in front of a barren concrete wall and st-ting that he was “forgiven” because he had shared vital information that saved the lives of other fighters.
“Because of this, I’ve been pardoned, which I’m extremely grateful for,” he says above the caption “Dmitry Yakushchenko is a good man.”
The BBC reports that the second video has not been authenticated, nor has the order in which the videos were recorded. Yakushchenko’s current location is unknown, and there is no confirmation that he is still alive.
Meanwhile, the independent Russian publication Agentstvo has speculated that Yakushchenko is still alive and may have been handed over to Russian authorities in a prisoner exchange.
Nonetheless, the f-otage depicting the all_ged execution was the second video of a Wagner group member’s alleged death by bludgeon to be made public in recent months.
In November, a gruesome video titled “The Hammer of Revenge” on Telegram purportedly showed a Russian mercenary named Yevgeny Nuzhin being t_ped to a wall before being murdered with a sledgehammer.
In recruitment videos that circulated last autumn, the Wagner group leader and oligarch Prigozhin was also filmed threatening to k_ll Russian prisoners who deserted the cause.