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Zambia to Moscow: Explain how a Zambian jailed in Russia died fighting in Ukraine

An abandoned Russian tank at a gas station on the outskirts of Izyum, in the Kharkiv region, eastern Ukraine on September 16, 2022, after Ukrainian forces recaptured the eastern city from the Russians. (Juan Barreto/AFP)
An abandoned Russian tank at a gas station on the outskirts of Izyum, in the Kharkiv region, eastern Ukraine on September 16, 2022, after Ukrainian forces recaptured the eastern city from the Russians. (Juan Barreto/AFP)

Zambia’s foreign minister says a Zambian student who had been jailed in Russia was killed in fighting in Ukraine, and demanded an explanation from the Kremlin.

Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda, 23, who had been serving a prison sentence in Moscow, “passed away on 22nd September 2022, in Ukraine,” Minister Stanley Kakubo says in a statement, adding that he died “at the battlefront.”

The statement said Nyirenda, who had been studying nuclear engineering at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, was handed a jail term in April 2020 of nine years and six months.

He was incarcerated at Tyer medium-security prison on the outskirts of the city, it said. The statement did not specify the alleged offense.

“(…) The Zambian government has requested the Russian authorities to urgently provide information on the circumstances under which a Zambian citizen, serving a prison sentence in Moscow, could have been recruited to fight in Ukraine and subsequently lose his life,” Kakubo says.

Ukrainian officials say the Wagner mercenary group has been sending thousands of soldiers recruited in Russian prisons to the front line, with the promise of a salary and an amnesty.

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