Yevgeny Prigozhin, who previously publicly denied his connection with the Wagner private military company, admitted that he was the one who created it. He said that the PMC was established in 2014.
"Then I flew to one of the training grounds and did it myself. I cleaned the old weapons myself, figured out the bulletproof vests myself and found specialists who could help me with this. From that moment, on May 1, 2014, a group of patriots was born, which later acquired the name Wagner. Only thanks to their courage and bravery, it became possible to liberate the Luhansk airport and many other territories, and the fate of the LPR and the DPR changed radically. "
In mid-September, a video circulated in the media showing Prigozhin recruiting inmates in one of Russian prisons. In the video, he says that everyone should pass an interview and perform several tests. After six months of service, he said, all survivors will be pardoned and sent home.
The main "sin," according to Prigozhin, is desertion:
"No one turns back, no one retreats, no one surrenders. When you are trained how to surrender, you will be told about two grenades that you must have with you. Those who come and on the first day say: "I got somewhere wrong", we make a mark "deserter", and then there is a shooting. "
Earlier, Prigozhin publicly denied his links to this private military company. Concord Holding, which is owned by Prigozhin, published a statement:
"We are not aware of the activities of the organization you mentioned. Yevgeny Viktorovich [Prigozhin] also asked to convey that he was extremely surprised by the very fact of the existence of this company and has nothing to do with its activities. "
The provision of military services by private companies is prohibited by law in Russia. The Russian Criminal Code provides for up to 7 years of imprisonment (Article 359) for participation in armed conflicts in the territory of another country, and up to 15 years for recruitment, training and financing of mercenaries.
In March, a bill on PMCs was submitted to the Russian parliament, the State Duma, according to which their activities are allowed abroad.
"Today we see how the fighters of private military companies help to perform the government’s task in the territory of Ukraine. So, there should be forms of their legalization, regulation and assistance, said the leader of the party "A Just Russia-For Truth", Sergey Mironov.
Prigozhin is not the only founder of the Wagner PMC. One of the co-founders is also believed to be Dmitry Utkin (aka Wagner), who, in September 2022, together with Prigozhin, traveled to Russian prisons to recruit inmates.
Prigozhin has repeatedly sued those who publicly called him the head of Wagner's PMC. In particular, the lawsuit was filed against the editor-in-chief of "Echo of Moscow" Alexei Venediktov. The latter lost the trial in August 2022 because of stating that that Prigozhin was the "owner of the Wagner PMC."