Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said an Iraqi citizen who fought with his Russian mercenary force died in Ukraine in April, in what is likely the first confirmed death of a Middle East native in the war.

The Russian-language RIA FAN news site said Abbas Abuthar Witwit passed away on April 7 in a Wagner hospital in the Russian-occupied eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk.

Prigozhin told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday that he had hired Witwit from a Russian prison, and that he was not the only native of an Arab country to have joined his mercenary group from jail.

He said the Iraqi national had fought bravely and “died with honor”.

Much of the combat for the ruined Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has been done by convicts hired by Wagner from Russian prisons with the offer of a pardon if they lasted six months at the front in Ukraine.

Prigozhin revealed last week that about 20,000 of his mercenaries had died in the long battle for Bakhmut.

He also said he had hired about 50,000 prisoners to fight with Wagner in Ukraine and that roughly 20 percent of them were now dead.

RIA FAN news reported that Witwit succumbed after being injured in Bakhmut. Court papers seen by Reuters showed that Witwit received a four-and-a-half year prison sentence on drug charges in July 2021 by a court in the Russian city of Kazan.

The documents said Witwit was a first-year student at a technical university in Russia when he was convicted.

Leave a Reply