Russia's Wagner paramilitary group opens first official HQ in St Petersburg

Access to the comments Comments
By AFP
Visitors wearing military camouflage at the entrance of the 'PMC Wagner Centre', the private military group's HQ, during the official opening, St Petersburg, Nov 4, 2022.
Visitors wearing military camouflage at the entrance of the 'PMC Wagner Centre', the private military group's HQ, during the official opening, St Petersburg, Nov 4, 2022.   -   Copyright  OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP

The Russian paramilitary group Wagner opened its first headquarters in St Petersburg, Russia, on Friday, an AFP reporter noted.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, who recently confirmed that he founded the highly secretive group and has been deployed in Latin America, Africa and Ukraine, announced the opening of the office on National Unity Day in a statement on his company's Concord website.

The glass-fronted, multi-storey building, topped with a large white sign reading "Wagner", opened on Friday.

Individuals in camouflage gear wandered through the building's grey corridors, looking at an exhibit featuring drones.

"The mission of the PMC Wagner Centre is to provide a comfortable environment for generating new ideas to improve Russia's defence capability," Prigozhin said in the statement.

Last month, Yevgeny Prigozhin put an end to years of rumours by admitting he had founded the group. For years, the Wagner group has been suspected of playing a role in furthering Moscow's ambitions abroad, with the Kremlin denying any link.

The group — and its leader — have played an increasingly important role in Russia's war against Ukraine since the full-scale invasion of the country launched last February.

OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP
A poster displaying a Russian soldier with a slogan reading 'Glory to the Heroes of Russia' near the 'PMC Wagner Centre' (left in the photo), Saint Petersburg, Nov. 4, 2022.OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP