| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Zambia seeks answers from Russia after national dies in Ukraine war, says foreign minister

The foreign affairs minister of Zambia said on Monday that Zambia has urged Russia to explain how one of its people, who was serving a prison sentence in Moscow, wound up on the battlefield in Ukraine, where he was killed.

Lemekhani Nyirenda passed away in September, according to a statement from Stanley Kakubo, who did not provide any other information.

Kakubo stated without elaborating on the offense that took place in April 2020 that the Zambian student was incarcerated in a medium security facility outside of Moscow after being found guilty of breaking Russian law.

“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,” Kakubo said.

It was not clear how the prisoner was recruited and by whom. Reuters could not independently verify the details surrounding his death.

“He was serving the prison sentence when he was conscripted into the army to go and fight in Ukraine but we don’t know who conscripted him,” the student’s father Edwin Nyirenda said.

Russia’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the circumstances of his journey to Ukraine and subsequent death.

The 23-year-old, who was studying nuclear engineering at a university in Moscow, was convicted and jailed for nine years and six months, according to Kakubo.

His father said Lemekhani was jailed for drug trafficking while doing a part-time job as a courier.

  • Reuters