The Wagner mercenary group is still hiring new fighters despite claims from his boss that they’ve paused recruiting indefinitely, according to a report.
On Monday, the group’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin addressed weeks of speculation over his next move in the wake of his failed mutiny by stating that most of his fighters are now ‘on holiday’.
He said Wagner would be focusing on training in Belarus and existing contracts in Africa, adding: ‘As long as we do not experience a shortage in personnel, we do not plan to carry out a new recruitment.’
The statement suggested there was no prospect of a return to Ukraine for the group.
But it came directly in the wake of an announcement by Russia’s parliament that new laws would be written allowing for private military companies to ‘ensure public safety’ and protect Russia’s borders.
The move paves the way for politicians to ‘officially’ oversee the dozens of mercenary groups that have previously been allowed to operate in Russia if they keep to the shadows.
Prigozhin’s statement also included vague comments about ‘next tasks’ and future missions to be ‘carried out in the name of the greatness of Russia’.
According to independent Russian investigative journalists from Important Stories,guns-for-hire can still join Wagner from parts of Russia.
A source described as a former mercenary who fought for Wagner in Africa and Ukraine claimed recruitment has resumed in the cities of Omsk and Novosibirsk, and that recruits can still be sent to Ukraine.
Pretending to be a ‘volunteer’, a correspondent from Important Stories contacted the recruiters – one of whom was working through a sports club.
Recruiters in Omsk said there was ‘nothing’ available due to Wagner being ‘banned’ in Russia, but those in Novosibirsk sent details for interviews and physical fitness test taking place once a week.
The undercover journalist said he was told most new recruits would be sent to Africa, and that sergeants refused to confirm claims that others were being sent to Ukraine.
He also reported receiving offers from another private military company to be attached to a division of the Russian Armed Forces known to be fighting in Ukraine, without any paperwork tying him or the company to the government.
A separate report by Russian investigative media grop Agentsvo said Prigozhin has clung onto lucrative contracts to provide food for schools, hospitals and other public services in Russia.
In Monday’s statement, the 62-year-old oligarch added: ‘We will be extremely grateful to you if you keep in touch with us, and as soon as the Motherland needs to create a new (additional) group that will be able to protect the interests of our country, we will certainly start recruiting.’
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