The son of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has claimed to have served with the Wagner mercenary group in Ukraine for nearly six months. Nikolai Peskov is reported to have used a false ID to hide-join the mercenary gang and to keep his Kremlin connections from his fellow soldiers.
The Wagner group is a private military company in Russia, which has been accused of war crimes and abuses in Ukraine. It recruits heavily from prisons, and it is unusual for a member of the Russian elite to choose to join the group.
It is uncommon for someone from Russia’s wealthy and politically-connected class to willingly join groups like the Wagner mercenaries, as many prefer to travel abroad to avoid being conscripted into the regular Russian army.
Peskov’s son, sometimes known as Nikolai Choles, is a Russian state broadcaster RT correspondent who speaks English effectively due to his time spent in London as a child.
Both he and his father are currently sanctioned by the United States.
Nikolai Peskov said in an interview with the pro-Kremlin daily Komsomolskaya Pravda that he made the decision to join the Wagner organisation on his own, but that he needed his father’s support to do so.
He did not specify where he served during Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. However, the Wagner group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, provided further information.
Nikolai Peskov claimed that Dmitry Peskov’s son joined the group using forged documents and went through a three-week training camp before being dispatched to Luhansk to help expand the combined artillery unit.
According to Prigozhin, he was thereafter assigned to an Uragan rocket battery crew.
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He also commended Dmitry Peskov’s bravery, saying that he “showed courage and heroism, just like all the others”.
Earlier this year, Nikolai claimed to have received a bravery medal for his unit’s achievement, but he couldn’t provide any details, saying: “We had one interesting sortie – I can’t say more than that.”
In September of the previous year, he became the subject of a prank video on YouTube, where journalist Dmitry Nizovtsev pretended to be a military recruitment officer and called Nikolai.
Nizovtsev spoke to him in a hostile manner, questioning why Nikolai did not show up at a Moscow call-up centre.
Nikolai, who sounded nervous, reminded Nizovtsev of his identity as “Mr Peskov” and threatened to escalate the matter.
He told the prankster: “I’m going to take this matter to another level,
“I basically need to know what’s going on and what my rights are.”
After President Vladimir Putin declared a “partial mobilisation” in September, tens of thousands of men have fled Russia to evade conscription.
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