Second African student dies fighting for Russia

Published 26/01/2023

A Tanzanian student is confirmed to have died in October fighting for Russia during the war in Ukraine, Tanzania’s foreign affairs minister has said.

Nemes Tarimo was recruited from prison to fight for Russian mercenary group Wagner in exchange for freedom, Stergomena Tax added.

It is the second confirmed death of an African student fighting for Russian forces in just six months.

The 33-year-old masters student was studying business informatics at the Russian Technological University, which he joined in 2020 on a scholarship.

“According to the information shared to us by the government of Russia, Tarimo opted to join the Wagner Group with the promise of receiving money and to be pardoned after the war ends,” BBC Africa quoted the minister saying.

His body is expected to arrive in Tanzania “any time this week”, the minister added.

“Tarimo opted to join the Wagner Group with the promise of… [being] pardoned”

Reports suggest that Tarimo was killed in the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, in Donbas – a region seeing heavy fighting in the war.

Tarimo had been sentenced to seven years in prison for drugs related charges and had been serving time since last March, reports indicated.

His family last week said they had received reports of his death from friends in Russia, and had watched online videos of people in military uniforms holding candles over a casket believed to belong to Tarimo.

His sister, Rehema Kigobe, said the family first received news of the death in December – before the Tanzanian embassy in Moscow confirmed to them that he had actually died nearly two months earlier at the end of October.

They expressed surprise that he had joined the battle, despite having no military background.

News of Tarimo’s death comes just months after the killing of 23-year-old Zambian student Lemekhani Nyirenda, who died last year while fighting for Russian forces.

Like Tarimo, he had enlisted with Wagner to escape a nine-year jail term for a drug offence.

The Zambian was buried on Wednesday in the eastern Rufunsa district, six weeks after his body was returned to Zambia – nearly five months after his death last September.

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