© Reuters. Visitors gather outside the Wagner PMC Center, a project by businessman and founder of the Wagner private military group, Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on April 4. November 2022.
ST. PETERSBURG (Reuters) – Russia’s Wagner Group, a private militia controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, has opened a military technology center in St.
The opening of the “Wagner Center” is seen as another step by Prigozhin to publicize his military credentials and play a more public role in shaping Russia’s defense policy.
It follows several steps to bolster his public profile in recent weeks, in contrast to years of the businessman operating in the shadows and denying he was behind Wagner, who has a military contract. soldiers are supporting the Russian army in Ukraine.
The grand opening of the steel and glass office building was attended by uniformed veterans and young culture and technology professionals, with lectures from nationalist and advocate figures. Kremlin supporters say the center will help “make our great country even better.”
A truck parked outside is decorated with the ‘Z’ symbol used by Russian forces in Ukraine.
“We are inviting startups related to IT, industrial technology and those who are developing new drones,” said Anastasia Vasilevskaya, press secretary for the center, where several drones are on display. new ideas that they are willing to apply in the field of defense.
“Of course we are interested in projects that can substitute imports,” she said. Western sanctions make it harder for Russia to buy foreign weapons technology.
Prigozhin made a series of outspoken interventions about Russian failures in the special military operation in Ukraine, along with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov mocking the performance of Russian generals.
Last month, Prigozhin publicly confirmed for the first time that he was the founder of Wagner, which has also deployed troops to Syria, Africa and Ukraine. The United States and the European Union punished Prigozhin for his role in the group.
There’s no indication when Prigozhin himself opens – sometimes dubbed “Putin’s Chef” because his sprawling catering businesses have attracted numerous government contracts.
“The establishment of such a center came a long time ago. The only thing is that it appeared really late,” said volunteer Alexey Savinsky, wearing military camouflage. “This center has to be opened a year before the special military operation. So it’s two years behind schedule.”