A convicted murderer released from prison to fight for Russia's Wagner group has been executed with a sledgehammer after he defected to Ukraine. Dmitry Yakushchenko, 44, was killed with a sledgehammer in a horrifying execution that was filmed and shared on the Telegram messaging app after having his head bound to a pile of bricks using cling film.
Yakushchenko is the second Wagner fighter to be executed in a similar style. The group released a similar sledgehammer "execution" video three months ago. The mercenary group has thousands of troops involved in heavy fighting in Ukraine. Wagner, which calls itself a private military company, began operations in 2014 in Crimea.
Yakushchenko was charged with treason for defecting to the Ukrainians following his arrival on the battle lines. Later, he was recaptured by some of his former Wagner colleagues, who later put him to death.
The disturbing video released by the Wagner group shows Yakushchenko confessing to surrendering to Ukraine while having his head firmly strapped to a brick with cling film and a man with a sledgehammer standing behind him.
Yakushchenko says in the video that after being dispatched to fight for Putin, he "realized this was not my war." He claimed to have been struck in the head on the streets of Dnipro, central Ukraine, and to have woken up in the room with his head bandaged.
Yakushchenko can be heard saying in the video that he had been informed that he would face a desertion trial.
At this point, the man standing behind him lifts the sledgehammer and appears to strike Yakushchenko in the head. The sound of Yakushchenko's skull breaking can be heard on the video.
Yakushchenko appears to be hit twice more, with his body sagging to the ground in between them.
The Grey Zone post makes a sarcastic comment about Yakushchenko's killing, referring it to Yevgeny Nuzhin, who was also a former prisoner, who was "executed" by Wagner in November in a similar way.
"Like his colleague Yevgeny Nuzhin earlier, he caught the same disease that makes you lose consciousness in Ukrainian cities, earlier in Kyiv, now in Dnipro, and then wake up in a basement at your last court session," the post said.
The Wagner Group has recently made released another video of Yakushchenko, in which he asserts that he has been "forgiven" for his "mistakes." The video was released by Prigozhin.
However, there is no concrete evidence that the fighter is still alive, and it might all be a Russian trick to spread false information. When asked about the execution, Prigozhin himself gave a strange, rambling response but hinted that there will be more incidents.
"We can share the next series with you.... Good will always triumphs over evil, you know," he said.
""It is difficult to say for sure whether Yakushchenko is alive or not, without knowing the sequence of recording the video of the 'resurrected' and 'executed' fighter of the Wagner PMC [private military company]," Baza media reported.
According to reports in Russia, Yakushchenko was a convicted killer and robber who served a 19-year prison term before being freed to fight in Ukraine.
In an official PoW transfer, the Ukrainians had returned him as well, but Wagner had given him back so that he could enforce his own laws. A close Putin henchman, Wagner chief Prigozhin, had threatened to execute "traitors" who left the front line and supported Nuzhin's murder, as did Putin's propagandists.
Yakushchenko appears to have been found guilty of murder in Crimea while it was still a part of Ukraine before it was annexed by Putin in 2014. After that, he was taken to a prison in Engels, Russia.
From this point on, he was enlisted in a Russian plot to liberate murderers, rapists, and other criminals in exchange for their services in fighting Ukraine in exchange for a pardon if they live for six months.
In a prior instance, after the EU designated Russia as a state supporter of terrorism, Prigozhin delivered the union a bloody sledgehammer.