Prigozhin’s stunning admission comes eight years after Russian journalists first revealed him as the man behind the infamous military contractor. But the businessman vehemently denied this, even suing several Russian and Western journalists over the reports.
Wagner first appeared in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and later expanded its operations to Syria, Libya, Central African Republic, Sudan and Mozambique, where its fighters have been accused of human rights abuses including torturing local residents.
Wagner played an active role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine this spring, and Prigozhin personally in recent weeks toured Russian prisons to find recruits as the Russian military faced an acute shortage of manpower.Read:Hurricane Ian latest: People trapped and 2.25 million without power as monster storm swamps Florida
The fact that a businessman without any official authorization was allowed into high-security prisons and was able to release some prisoners and ship them to Ukraine underscores his influence in the Russian establishment.
A few weeks before the Kremlin announced a mobilization to support its losses in Ukraine, Mr. Prigozhin tried to defend his prison conscription campaign, arguing that it was “better” to send convicts, not your “sons,” to fight in Ukraine.Read:Kremlin thanks Elon Musk after he tweets his ‘peace’ plan for Ukraine