May 07, 2023

DNA Doesn't Lie. Wagner Does.


DNA Doesn't Lie. Wagner Does.
Maxim Yefimov. Anna Yefimova / 7x7

On March 1, Anna Yefimova was informed that her son Maxim, a prisoner who had been doing time for drug possession and who, in September 2022, joined the notorious Wagner paramilitary forces in Russia's War on Ukraine, was killed in action.

In actuality, according to the Wagner officer who contacted her, Maxim was killed in action on December 1, 2022, less than three months after joining the military force, which has become infamous for sending unprepared and often involuntary recruits into meat-grinder battles such as the battle for Bakhmut.

Maxim's body was delivered to the city hospital of Dzerzhinsk in a zinc coffin. The only problem? It was not, as DNA tests would later prove, Maxim's remains.

According to Yefimova, Wagner representatives did not take DNA samples from her, and when she argued for testing to confirm that the body being sent her was in fact her son, the Wagner rep said that they were “not doing that.”

"I was told that the commander of Maxim's unit confirmed his death in a report," Yefimova told 7x7. "The guys who took the body, for some reason, determined that this was the body of Maxim. I asked for these people's contact information, and they told me that they could not provide it.”

When the body arrived, at first the Wagner representative refused to let Yefimova open the zinc coffin, but then relented.

"There was just a piece of flesh," Yefimova said. "It’s hard to understand what sort of body part it was, much less to identify a person. I immediately said I would do a DNA test to confirm if it was him or not."

The Wagner reps threw up a brick wall, saying they didn't have time, that Yefimova had to either sign for the body or refuse it, in which case Maxim would be declared MIA.

“They said it like it was normal. I don't think they cared at all," Yefimova said. "They said that no one acts like I was acting, but on the contrary, everyone is grateful that there is an opportunity to bury the deceased. Many do not even have an opportunity to do that.”

Needless to say, Yefimova refused to sign, and convinced the reps of the need for a DNA test, then independently tracked down a laboratory for the testing – the InLab Genetics laboratory in St. Petersburg.

The DNA test took 13 days, and it concluded that the DNA of Yefimova and the remains had nothing in common.

Snapshot of a DNA Test
Sending in the specimens for DNA testing. / 7x7

Maxim Yefimov had been convicted of drug possession in 2017, and was in a Nizhny Novgorod prison, having served more than half of his seven-year sentence.

"He was framed," Yefimova said in an interview with 7x7, "but he had a good heart, so he did not grass on his friends, and he was sentenced without mitigating circumstances. I also didn’t have money for a good lawyer.”

Then, in September 2022, as part of the Wagner drive to recruit prisoners to fight in Russia's Ukraine War (if they survive the contract term of service, they purportedly will be pardoned of their crimes), Maxim joined the paramilitary outfit. Maxim told his mother of his decision in a two-minute phone conversation in which he gathered his mother's passport information so that his monthly salary could be wired to her.

“I'm sure he wouldn't have gone himself — maybe he was forced or intimidated," Yefimova said. "I don't know. I think that he would never have agreed voluntarily.”

Today, Yefimova is not ready to abandon hope that her son is alive and plans to look for anyone who might have seen her son and know where he fought.

"I still have not even received an answer to the question of where Maxim was and who saw him," Yefimova said. "But, after all, he had been somewhere since September and at least until December he was not alone. I don’t have hope of getting any help from Wagner representatives."

Maxim would have been 25 years old today, May 7.

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