By A.T. and J.F./TICR Group 2022
Who they are
Wagner Group is a Private Military Company (PMC) with a very large following. Their operations have historically taken place mostly in Northern African countries and parts of South America. Their two most notable activities include fighting along-side Russian separatists in the Donbas region of Ukraine during 2014-2015, and fighting in the Syrian civil war, on the side of the Syrian government in 2015-2016.
Some sources believe that Wagner is a branch off of the Russian Ministry of Defense and are sent out on various missions as their own entity so that the Russian government is able to claim plausible deniability.
The majority of information that has been pieced together on Wagner has been a lot of fill in the blanks. Wagner, for the most part, has kept a low profile. Social media platforms are not allowed inside the ranks of the PMC.
There has been intelligence obtained off of Wagner soldier’s bodies or that were left behind after a firefight. Some of this intelligence shows things like munitions type and count, pinned locations of unmarked mines placed by Wagner, and even personal information on some of the members. BBC was able to obtain an exclusive interview with 2 Wagner members on the premise their anonymity be kept.
During the interviews, the members state that the Wagner Group that the media portrays does not exist, Russian warfighters are recruited as contractors and are trained and deployed on short term contracts. Wagner does not discriminate in what wars are fought or not fought, in their eyes, every battle or conflict has money in it.
There were, allegedly, upwards of 1000 fighters in Libya at one time that are all suspected to be under the Wagner “contract” umbrella.
Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch, is believed to be the owner and founder of Wagner Group. Yevgeniy Prigozhin has always denied having ties or ownership over Wagner Group. The case against him does not agree with his denials. Prigozhin has extremely close ties with Russian president, Vladimir Putin, serving as his personal chef/caterer for many years later in his life while being the head of “Concord Catering”.
Prigozhin has founded numerous companies and organizations that have been identified with corruption. Most notably, some of Prigozhin’s organizations spread misinformation and allotted large funding for projects in order to interfere with U.S. primary elections in 2016 and midterm elections in 2018. He was charged for funding and organizing operations for the interference as well as numerous accounts of identity theft.
Throughout 2016-2022, Prigozhin, his colleagues, and organizations have been placed under sanctions by the U.S. and U.K. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Prigozhin was placed under strict sanctions by the U.S. to include visa restrictions and freezing the assets of Prigozhin, his wife, and two children.
This leads us into Dmitry Utkin, who previously had been the head of Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s security team. Utkin served as a commander of the 700th Separate Special Detachment in Russia’s GRU. After retiring, Utkin joined the Slavonic Corps which fought alongside al-Assad during the 2013 Syrian civil war.
Utkin is known to be a Third-Reich sympathizer and has been deemed a neo-Nazi by several countries. This image may be familiar.
Shortly after Utkin returned to Russia following his short stint in the Slavonic Corps, he founded his own mercenary group. Inspired by Adolf Hitler’s favorite composer, Richard Wagner, Utkin chose the callsign “Wagner” to represent himself in the newly founded PMC.
Utkin was also listed as the Director General of Concord Management. In 2011, Prigozhin’s mother, Violetta Prigozhina was announced to be the owner of Concord. Concord management, Prigozhin, and his mother all continued to deny any connection to Wagner Group. In 2016, Concord Management announced that Dmitry “Wagner” Utkin would now be the head of Prigozhin’s catering business. In 2017, Utkin was appointed as the CEO of Concord Management.
The U.S. imposed sanctions on Utkin as the head of Wagner Group in 2017. He has been charged with numerous war crimes to include torture and arbitrary executions.
Violetta Prigozhin is still listed as the legal owner of Concord Management and Consulting LLC. Every year, more businesses, allegedly not associated with Prigozhin, pop up around Russia that all contain the same contact information as Concord.
Numerous assassinations orders have been placed on individuals around the world by Wagner leaders. Placing a price on someone’s head increases the reach and possibility of succeeding the mission ten fold. Currently, Wagner has placed prices on the heads of The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky and several mayors of large Ukrainian cities. There are also claims that assassination orders have been placed in groups that are Anti-Wagner Group. Forward Observations Group, which has done numerous tours to the front lines of the Ukrainian war since 2014, has been receiving threats and has been directly targeted by Wagner contractors. So far, all assassination attempts on any group or government official has failed.
In a particularly gruesome video released by a Wagner member in 2017, exposes the most notable war crime ever shown by the Wagner PMC. The video depicts a Syrian Army deserter, Hamadi Boutta, being beaten with sledgehammers, tortured, beheaded, dismembered, hanged by the legs, and finally set on fire. The individuals depicted in the video have had their identities blurred. Languages identified are Swahili and Russian. The individuals are laughing and yelling at the man throughout the entire video.
The Russian Z symbol has been becoming more prominent in Russia’s pro-war communities. All of these communities have at one point or another publicly supported Wagner/Slavonic Corps. These groups are not Wagner Group themselves, only supporters. Below is a list of known supporters of Z, Wagner, or Slavonic Corps. The list will be updated with additional communities as they are found.
+8 (495) 928-29-84
+7 (909) 987-02-44
+7 (909) 986-93-95
Slavcorps.org’s index page can be seen on archive.org but the URL now redirects to https://www.rancakmedia.com/ which appears to be an Indonesian website that only posts very basic technology tutorials and does not appear to be related to any PMC.
An extremely in-depth paper on Wagner Group can be read here:
This article is unfinished and more information will follow.