Zambia seeks answers over student’s Ukraine death

 Zambia has demanded answers over the death of a student who was fight­ing for Russia in Ukraine.

Lusaka has asked Moscow “to urgently provide information on the circumstances” surrounding Lemekhani Nyirenda’s death.

The 23-year-old, a student at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, had been serving nine years in jail for a drug offence.His family has unanswered ques­tions and wants to identify the body in Russia.

Mr Nyirenda died in Sep­tember but Russia has only just informed Zambia’s government.

The Zambian embassy in Rus­sia established that Mr Nyirenda’s body had since been transported to the Russian southern border town of Rostov-on-Don in read­iness for repatriation to Zam­bia, Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Stanley Kakubo said on Monday.

“As minister, I have been personally in touch, and will maintain contact with the family of the deceased in order to pro­vide an update on more details surrounding their loved one’s death,” Mr Kakubo commented.

The student was working as a part-time courier when an unknown person handed him a package containing drugs, his father Edwin Nyirenda told Reu­ters news agency.

The father also said “we don’t know” who conscripted his son from prison, and added that the family only “received a message from a man we do not know in Russia who told us that there was a will, which our son left, and we should travel to Russia”.

Zambia has traditionally sent students to Russia to study on scholarships, as was the case with Mr Nyirenda.

The circumstances of his release from prison are unknown, but Russia has offered freedom to some prisoners in exchange for fighting in its war in Ukraine.

In September footage was leaked showing the Russian mer­cenary group Wagner recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine.

In the video Yevgeny Prigo­zhin, head of the Wagner group, is seen outlining the rules of fighting, such as no deserting or sexual contact with Ukrainian women, and then gives the pris­oners five minutes to decide if they want to join the battle.

Ominously, he told the prison­ers he would get them out of jail alive but said he could not promise to bring them back to alive. —Reuters

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