Yevgeny Prigozhin, who previously publicly denied his connection with the Wagner PMC, admitted that he was its creator. He said that the PMC was created in 2014.
“Then I flew to one of the training grounds and did it myself. I myself cleaned the old weapons, 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 BTG "Wagner". It was solely thanks to their courage and courage that the liberation of the Lugansk airport and many other territories became possible, and the fate of the LPR and the DPR changed radically.”
In mid-September, a video circulated in the media showing Prigozhin recruiting prisoners. In the video, he says that all applicants must go through an interview and pass several tests. After six months of service, according to him, all survivors will be pardoned and sent home.
The main "sin", according to Prigozhin, is desertion:
“No one gives back, no one retreats, no one surrenders. When you are instructed on surrendering, you will be told about two grenades that you should have with you. <...> For those who arrive and on the first day say: “Somewhere I didn’t go there”, we make a mark “deserter”, and after that execution follows.”
Previously, Prigozhin publicly denied ties to a private military company. In particular, the company associated with him published the following statement:
“We are not aware of the activities of the organization you mentioned. Yevgeny Viktorovich also asked me to convey that he was extremely surprised by the very fact of the existence of this company and had nothing to do with its activities.
The provision of military services by private companies (mercenarism) is prohibited by law in Russia; for participation in armed conflicts on the territory of another country, the Criminal Code provides for up to 7 years in prison (Article 359), for recruiting, training and financing a mercenary - up to 15 years.
In March, a draft law on PMCs was submitted to the State Duma, according to which their activities are allowed outside the Russian Federation.
“Today we see how the fighters of private military companies help to carry out the state task on the territory of Ukraine. This means that there must be forms of their legalization, regulation and assistance, ”Sergey Mironov, leader of A Just Russia, commented on the introduction of the bill.
Prigozhin is not the only founder of the Wagner PMC. Dmitry Utkin (callsign Wagner) is also considered a co-founder, who, together with Prigozhin, traveled to Russian colonies in September 2022 to recruit prisoners to be sent to the front.
Prigozhin repeatedly sued those who publicly called him the head of the Wagner PMC. In particular, the lawsuit was filed against the editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy, Alexei Venediktov. The latter lost the court in August 2022 due to the words that Prigozhin is the "owner of Wagner PMC".