Russian mercenary firm Wagner Group claims it’s a ‘management consultancy’

We’re not mercenaries, we’re book publishers and management consultants, says Russian mercenary group Wagner as they step out of the shadows

  • Wagner has registered itself in Russia as a company for the first time 
  • Running a mercenary group or private military contractors is illegal in Russia
  • The mercenary group has instead described itself as ‘management consultants’  

Russian gun-for-hire group Wagner, who sent thousands of criminals to Ukraine has said it not a mercenary company, rather a firm of management consultants and book publishers. 

The controversial company’s boss Yevgeny Prigozhin set up the armed militia during the Syrian conflict when his men were deployed to look after Russian interests in the country. 

Now, the Kremlin has ordered Prigozhin to send troops to support the Russia’s stalled offensive in Ukraine, where the mercenaries have been accused of murdering civilians. 

Reports suggest Prigozhin has been recruiting men from Russian prisons, offering them pardons if they complete their military service. 

Russian mercenary company the Wagner Group has registered as a company for the first time in Russia, pictured, Wagner boss Yevheny Prizgozhin, left, with Russian president Vladimir Putin

Russian mercenary company the Wagner Group has registered as a company for the first time in Russia, pictured, Wagner boss Yevheny Prizgozhin, left, with Russian president Vladimir Putin

Prigozhin, pictured, registered the firm as a 'management consultancy' as running private military contractors in Russia is illegal

Prigozhin, pictured, registered the firm as a ‘management consultancy’ as running private military contractors in Russia is illegal

According to The Telegraph, ChVK Wagner Centre has been registered as a company in Russia which is primarily focused on ‘management consultancy’. 

It is illegal under Russian law to operate a mercenary company. 

Wagner is currently recruiting in Serbia, even running adverts on local media seeking volunteers to join the fight against Ukraine. 

Serbia and Belarus are the only two countries in Europe not to have joined in with sanctions against Russia. 

However, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has condemned  the recruitment drive. 

The criticism marks a rare public rebuke from the Serbian leader toward Russia – a steadfast ally of the Balkan country.

The controversial advertisement appeared earlier this month in the Russian state media outlet RT’s Serbian affiliate.

Small numbers of Serbians have fought alongside Russian-backed forces in Ukraine since fighting first broke out in the country in 2014.

The exact number of Serbs who fought in Ukraine has never been disclosed by officials.

The controversial company's boss Yevgeny Prigozhin set up the armed militia during the Syrian conflict when his men were deployed to look after Russian interests in the country

The controversial company’s boss Yevgeny Prigozhin set up the armed militia during the Syrian conflict when his men were deployed to look after Russian interests in the country

Serbia has long been a reliable ally to Moscow, with shared Orthodox heritage, mutual hatred of NATO, and military alliances during several wars strengthening their relations.

Serbia remains the only European country – apart from Belarus – that did not join Western sanctions against Moscow.

On Tuesday, Russia’s RIA news agency published footage apparently showed two Serbian citizens participating in a weapons training course in Ukraine.

The Wagner mercenary outfit founded in 2014 – which has been involved in conflicts in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East – shot to prominence after President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Tens of thousands of Russians have relocated to Serbia since the outbreak of war, where most have been warmly welcomed.

Despite the arrival of dissident Russians fleeing the conflict, Serbians by and large remain ardent supporters of the invasion of Ukraine, with pro-Kremlin rallies held in the capital Belgrade.

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