Wagner: Putin’s chef Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted to creating a mercenary uniform in 2014



CNN

Yevgeny Prigozhin, one of Russia’s most elusive oligarchs, now admits to founding the private military company known as Wagner in 2014, reflecting years of denials about his connection to the mysterious outfit.

Prigozhin is very close to the Kremlin Known as the “chef” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On social media on Monday, Prigozhin released a statement via his company Concord Catering, which began by saying, “Let’s go briefly to the assets.”

In a lengthy and lively statement, he went on to say that the 2014 Russian-backed separatist movements in Donbass in eastern Ukraine were the catalyst for its founding.

Prigozhin claimed that he personally “cleaned old weapons, discovered flak jackets for myself and found specialists who could help me in this matter. From that moment, from May 1, 2014, a group of patriots was born.”

CNN has Wagner Trackers Mercenaries in the Central African Republic, SudanLibya, Mozambique, Ukraine and Syria. Over the years they have acquired a particularly horrific reputation and have been linked to numerous human rights abuses.

In 2019, the CNN team gained access to a file Wagner Training Base in CAR. Two years later, CNN Exposing egregious violations of human rights It was committed by Russian fighters in the country. The intercepted communications shared with CNN in 2020 showed an operation by Russian agents of Tracking and monitoring of CNN journalists They also reported on Wagner’s operations in the Central African Republic the previous year.

Recently, the group has erected in Maliwhere human rights groups allege it has been implicated in a horrific series of murders.

The United States sanctioned Prigozhin in 2019 for his role in running an online Troll factory, accused of trying to undermine the 2016 US presidential election.

Observers say Wagner often acted as an informal arm of Russian foreign policy, even though mercenary activity is technically illegal in Russia.

For years, Prigozhin has consistently denied having ties to the Wagner Group. He filed lawsuits against Russian media outlets that investigated him, and belittled the journalists who interrogated him.

But his announcement on Monday appears to have been the culmination of a gradual emergence from the shadows over the past several weeks — and may reflect the shifting balance of power in Russia as Putin’s campaign in Ukraine falters.

Earlier in September, a video appeared on the Internet of a bald and obese man who appeared to be Prigozhin promising amnesty to Russian prisoners for six months of military service. Another showed what appeared to be the same man talking to military leaders.

In the video showing what appeared to be Prigogine with the convicts, he said, “I am a representative of a private military company. You may have heard of us, PMC Wagner.”

He adds: “The first prisoners who fought with me, took part on the 1st of June during the storming of the Voglidar power plant. Forty men went into the enemy trenches and cut them with knives.”

In the days after the video appeared on the Internet, Prigozhin’s company Concorde issued a bizarre statement, neither confirming nor denying the identity of the person who appeared in the video. “In fact, we can confirm that the person in the video is very similar to Yevgeny Viktorovich [Prigozhin],” he said. “In addition, the speech of the person in the video is very well delivered, just like the speech of Evgeny Viktorovich. [Prigozhin]. And someone who looks like Yevgeny Viktorovich [Prigozhin] He clearly explains simple and understandable things to ordinary people. ”

Recently, the same man appeared at the funeral of one of the Wagner fighters. He was seen (in the video) wearing khakis shaking hands and comforting the family gathered around their son’s coffin.

Then, just days ago, the supposedly camera-shy “chef” appeared in videos on social media showing him getting off a helicopter for a late-night meeting with his advisors.

There is another acceptance. The arrival of large numbers of recruits is imminent. Prigozhin can be heard saying: “We are about to have a large influx of those who, frankly, want to perform special tasks, go to war.”

A voice asks if they can leak the video. “Leaks away,” replied Prigozhin, “so they know we’re not just picking our noses here.”

When asked in a social media post on Monday why he has now stopped denying his involvement with the Wagner Group, Prigozhin said: “I have long avoided the blows of many opponents with one main goal – so as not to hurt these guys. [fighters]who are the basis of Russian patriotism.

With Moscow’s “special military operation” faltering in Ukraine, the search for exhausted and humiliated ranks regeneration took a bad turn.

An investigation by CNN in August uncovered evidence of Wagner recruits touring Russia’s penal colonies looking for recruits to join their ranks. Their reward – six months of work for a health stipend and, if they survive, freedom. If they die, there will be a lump sum for their families.

When Putin announced last week a partial mobilization of the country, after Ukraine’s sweeping battlefield gains, the move sparked protests, anger and a mass exodus of service-age males in Russia.

Marina Myron, of the Department of Defense Studies at King’s College London, suggested calling in and using Wagner mercenaries in Ukraine with any surprise because their fighters serve a special purpose.

It is not a departure from the usual way of working. She said, referring to the atrocities of the Wagner mercenaries who fought for control of The Syrian city of PalmyraAs well as their role in Libya and Ukraine.

The ever-growing list of failures on the battlefield has led Russian military bloggers to go even further, suggesting in posts on platforms like Telegram that a new man needs to take over the war effort. Many believe that this man must be Prigozhin.

These factors may lead somewhat to describe his sudden love for the camera – and the first acknowledgment of his role as Wagner.

“In the past two months, he’s tried to get more credit and public recognition and become an unlikely hero for militants, even other soldiers who are dissatisfied with the incompetence of their military leaders and adore YP’s very aggressive stance,” Christo Grosev of Bellingcat, an online investigative group, told CNN. In an interview conducted before Prigozhin’s announcement.

But Grosev added that Prigozhin’s ambitions may not be limited to public relations only.

Days ago, he sent a warm greeting to an African Head of State. He also praised the virtues of closed societies such as China and North Korea. So one begins to wonder if he has some political ambitions.

It is clear that Prigozhin is pulling himself and Wagner out of the shadows. The announcement of his ownership marks a new chapter in Wagner’s now public presence.

This move also raises the question, did Russia’s blunders on the battlefield push Prigozhin and his fearsome brigade of fighters into the public sphere, and does he want political compensation for this?

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