The Russian journalist Yevgeny (Zhaksybay) Ilyubaev, who became a mercenary for the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), has been killed in combat in Libya, Znak.com reports, citing its own sources.
One of the sources said that in recent years Ilyubaev had entered the armed conflict zones, including Syria, on several occasions. Around a year ago he was even awarded a medal for bravery, which was presented to him by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“When the reports came in that our own people had been killed in Libya, for some reason I immediately started having bad thoughts. We tried to find out whether or not he was among the casualties. And he was. About two weeks ago, relatives received phone calls and were asked to come and identify [the body],” said one of the journalist’s friends.
The circumstances of 55 year-old Ilyubaev’s death are not known. At the start of October it was reported that several dozen Russian mercenaries who were fighting for the rebel general Khalifa Haftar had been killed in Libya. According to one theory, Ilyubaev was killed in an airstrike.
The Russian government has not officially confirmed Ilyubaev’s death. He was buried last week in his native town of Novoorsk in Russia’s Orenburg province.
The Wagner PMC is controlled by the Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as “Putin’s chef”. It is believed that the instruction to be involved in the founding of the PMC came from Russia’s senior military leadership.
According to various sources, between 7,000 and 10,000 mercenaries may have passed through the Wagner PMC since 2014.