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Zambian Officials Head to Russia to Bring Home Student Killed Fighting in Ukraine

Lusaka, Zambia — Zambian authorities said they will travel next week to Russia to retrieve the body of a 23-year-old Zambian who died while fighting for the Russian military in Ukraine. His family and the Zambian government are still waiting for answers from Moscow on how he was recruited into the army while serving a nine-year prison sentence in Russia.

Zambian ministry of information and media spokesperson Thabo Kawana confirmed that the ministry of foreign affairs is spearheading efforts to bring the body of Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda back to Zambia for burial.

Kawana said the minister of foreign affairs is in contact with Nyirenda’s family and has visited them.

“The government is also offering support during this trying moment and doing everything they can to arrange for the funeral and repatriation of the body back to Zambia,” Kawana said. “Using our diplomatic channels and our all-weather cooperation between Russia and ourselves, we will be able to get to the bottom of this matter.”

Nyirenda, a student, was born to a middle class family of lecturers at the University of Zambia, Edwin and Florence Nyirenda. He was the youngest of four children.

Nyirenda had a twin brother, Tivo. Their older sister Munangalu Nyirenda said Lemekhani had big dreams to develop Zambia. She said her close-knit family is devastated by his death.

“He was our baby brother, they have robbed him of his bright future,” she said. “Why? Why? This hurts so bad, we need some answers from Russia.”