A Zambian student, imprisoned in Russia, died during a battle in Ukraine, Zambia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.
The student was a 23-year-old student who had been sponsored by the Zambian government to study nuclear engineering at the Institute of Engineering Physics in Moscow.
The man was identified as Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda by Zambian Foreign Affairs Minister Stanley Kakubo in a statement.
Nyirenda was convicted in 2020 of unspecified crimes in Russia and sent to prison for nine years and six months. He was serving a sentence at the medium-security Tyer prison on the outskirts of Moscow,” the statement said.
Zambia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was informed of his death “on November 9, 2022 … on the frontline of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.”
The ministry said it had urgent questions for Moscow about how the Zambian ended up fighting for Moscow.
“In light of this sad development, the Government of Zambia has requested the Russian authorities to urgently provide information on the circumstances in which a Zambian citizen, who is serving a prison sentence in Moscow, may have been recruited to fight in Ukraine and subsequently lose his life. “.
In August, a CNN investigation found that Russia was recruiting prisoners into its military in exchange for their freedom.
Hundreds of prisoners were believed to have been boarded in Russian jails as Moscow rushed to bolster its troops, which have suffered heavy casualties since the war began.
It is unclear how many Africans have been drafted into the Russian military since its months-long invasion of Ukraine.
The ministry says the man’s remains have been flown to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don to be repatriated to Zambia.
CNN has reached out to Zambia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information.
Thousands of Africans, mostly students, fled an attack by Russian troops as they marched into Ukraine in February.
However, many foreign students reported facing segregation and racism at borders. Many of the fleeing students were later evacuated to their various countries by their governments.