A notorious Russian mercenary known as “The Executioner” and suspected of slaughtering prisoners of war and civilians in Ukraine has been killed, according to reports.
Russian-language Telegram channels and media outlets reported that Vladimir Andonov, 44, a purported member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s feared private army the Wagner Group, was shot dead by an apparent Ukraine sniper in Kharkiv last week.
“He was killed overnight during a reconnaissance of the area, along with a comrade, presumably at the hands of a sniper,” Telegram channel Peleng 03 reported Sunday.
The Russian newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets described Andonov, who operated under the code name “Vaha,” as a volunteer from the Republic of Buryatia who gained fame in 2014, when he first traveled to Ukraine after the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea.
Andonov earned the nickname “The Executioner” for killing prisoners of war in 2015 in the hotly contested Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian database “Peacemaker,” which catalogues Russia’s alleged war crimes.
Andonov later plied his trade as a gun-for-hire in Libya and Syria and was awarded two medals for valor while fighting as part of Putin’s shadowy private army, which has been linked to atrocities in war zones across the globe.
The bloodthirsty mercenary was the latest high-profile Russian fighter to meet his end in Ukraine. News of his death came just days after Major Gen. Roman Kutuzov and Lt. Gen. Roman Brednikov were reported killed in action in the Donbas region.
Since the start of the war Feb. 24, Western news outlets have reported that the Russian military has lost 12 generals and at least 50 colonels.
Zhambal-Zhamso Zhanaev, head of Russia’s Trans-Baikal Territory in Buryatia, where Andonov lived with his family, confirmed his death to Moskovskij Komsomolets and said that his body will be transported back to his hometown for burial.
Andonov had served in the regular Russian army from 1997 until 2005, when he relocated to the city of Ulan-Ude and enrolled in a teaching college, Moskovskij Komsomolets reported.
He later dropped out of school and found a trade job before signing up to fight in Ukraine’s Donbas region as part of the “Olkhon” special forces company.
After a major battle in 2015, Andonov allegedly took part in the execution of captured Ukrainian soldiers in the town of Logvinovo, according to the “Peacemaker” database.
In an interview with a Russian after following his return from the war in 2017, Andonov said he decided to fight in the Donbas as a volunteer because his grandfather had fought there during World War II.