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.

You Might Also Like

Hired Guns
  • September 01, 2018

Hired Guns

The deaths in July under mysterious circumstances of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic (CAR) has refocused attention on Russian mercenaries in foreign lands.
Violence Comes Home, Too
  • April 22, 2023

Violence Comes Home, Too

A man from Nizhny Novgorod fought in Ukraine. When he returned to Russia, he killed his wife.
400 Days
  • March 30, 2023

400 Days

On this, the 400th Day of Russia's War on Ukraine, we gather and share some telling data.
The Wizard and His Little Wagners
  • March 09, 2023

The Wizard and His Little Wagners

The Wagner Group's new youth club sponsors pro-militaristic activities and suggests it undertakes recruitment by hypnosis.
Death Awaits Them
  • October 12, 2022

Death Awaits Them

"Honestly, they will all die there." – Kirill, a Russian soldier who has fought in Ukraine offers a grim prognosis of what awaits the new mobilized recruits.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
At the Circus

At the Circus

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
Steppe / Степь

Steppe / Степь

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955