Post-Mutiny, Wagner Group Is 'Business as Usual'

Journalists are told when calling recruitment centers that 'nothing has stopped'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2023 12:23 PM CDT
Wagner Acts Like Mutiny Never Happened, Keeps Recruiting
Members of the Wagner Group military company are seen on a street in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Saturday.   (AP Photo, File)

The mutiny in Russia was over almost as soon as it began, and details over what's going on with rebellion leader Yevgeny Prigozhin remain murky, but none of this has seemed to put a damper on recruitment efforts by the Wagner Group. The BBC reported Thursday that it had placed calls to a dozen-plus Wagner recruitment centers, mostly located at boxing clubs and martial arts schools around Russia, and that those on the other end said "it was business as usual." "If someone wants to go [fight in Ukraine], they just have to call me and we'll set a day," one woman working at a center in the northwest city of Murmansk told the UK broadcaster.

"Nothing has stopped, we're still recruiting," said a recruiter in Volgograd, in Russia's southwestern region, making sure to emphasize that they weren't affiliated with Russian Defense Ministry forces. The Moscow Times reports on similar findings by Populyarnaya Politika, a news outlet created by associates of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Pretending to be an interested potential recruit, journalist Dmitry Nizovtsev asked a recruiter on the other end of the line if he should be worried about being branded a traitor by Russian President Vladimir Putin if he joins up with Wagner.

"If we were traitors, we wouldn't be in Russia," replied the man he was talking to. "Any other questions?" Recruits generally sign a six-month contract to join the Wagner Group, with a salary of about $2,700 per month, per the BBC. The fact that recruitment continues, seemingly unhampered, "appears to suggest that the Kremlin has not made up its mind about the group's future," notes the Guardian. And if Prigozhin is somehow removed from being in charge of the Wagner Group? "Then that's no longer Wagner as we know it but a pathetic imitation," says Marat Gabidullin, a former Wagner commander. "Very few Wagner soldiers will sign up for a Wagner without him." (More Wagner Group stories.)

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