Kremlin sends foreign citizens imprisoned in Russia to fight in Ukraine

The Kremlin is sending citizens of African countries imprisoned in Russia to fight in the war in Ukraine, Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko said in Kyiv. Earlier, Reuters reported that Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda, a Zambian national who was serving a prison sentence in Moscow, had died in the war.

The spokesman called on the African Union and all African countries to demand that Russia stop forcing their citizens to take part in the fighting. “Africans should not die in the name of Putin’s sick imperial ambitions,” he added.

Zambian national killed

Reuters reported on Monday that Zambian authorities had asked Moscow to explain how its citizen, who was serving a prison sentence in Russia, died in the war in Ukraine.

The 23-year-old nuclear engineering student was in prison in Moscow in connection with a breach of Russian law in early 2020. His father, quoted by Reuters, relayed that he was convicted of drug trafficking.

Russia informed Zambia of the death of its citizen in September.

It is unclear who recruited the Zambian prisoner for the war. The man’s remains were transported to the Russian border town of Rostov in readiness for repatriation to Zambia. His relatives plan to travel to Russia to identify the body.