A Russian journalist went undercover as a wannabe recruit for the notorious Wagner Group and was seemingly accepted by the private army after little to no questioning about his background.
The independent outlet The Insider reports that journalists got the idea to call Wagner’s hotline after the group started hanging up recruiting posters at bus stops and security companies.
One such poster, purportedly hung up in Krasnoyarsk, urged wannabe Wagner recruits to “test their spirit” by signing a contract. Bizarrely, the poster claimed all recruits would be required to “answer three questions” upon joining: “Would you rather get stabbed in the eye by a fork or fucked in the butt?,” and, “Would you rather get butt-fucked or sell your mother?”
The last question asked prospective candidates if they’d prefer to eat “soap from the table or bread from the latrine.”
An unnamed Wagner recruiter was quoted telling the Insider the prison-style questions are “nonsense” and there is “no such” requirement to join the group. But he said newbies would likely “see” prisoners serving in the group’s ranks, even though they “won’t cross paths with them.”
Asked by the reporter if he was allowed to “‘bring other guys” along to a Wagner headquarters in the Krasnodar region, the recruiter didn’t skip a beat when answering matter-of-factly: “Make sure they haven’t been sentenced for such crimes as terrorism, extremism, kidnapping and rape.”
He made no mention of murder.
A “juvenile record,” the recruiter said, was fine, along with men struggling with substance abuse.
“Sometimes they come in with a certificate from the narcologist that they are registered alcoholics. Such things are forgiven, but guys like that need to pass lie detector,” the recruiter was quoted saying.
Among other things, the recruiter said funeral costs would be covered, though he couldn’t cite an “exact amount,” and that payment would be about $3,500 a month on a six-month contract. Recruits are then sent on to the battlefield after “two or three weeks” of training, he said.
He told the supposed recruit that “there might be an opportunity for you to serve as a sniper” since he had gone “shooting” with his father “sometimes” in the past.
“Look, you’ll need your passport. If you have a military ID, take it, if not, don’t. Passport, health insurance and a certificate from the narcologist and psychiatrist, that you are not registered with them. Next, you’ll need to delete all social media accounts and messengers to avoid information leaks,” the recruiter said.
He also stressed that the shadow army operates freely of Russia’s Defense Ministry, noting: “We have our own awards, but we don’t count on ones from the ministry, because we are not part of the Defense Ministry.”
The purported phone call comes as Wagner has reportedly stepped up recruiting efforts in recent weeks, with human rights groups sounding the alarm over female prison inmates joining the group and political prisoners in Chechnya being pressured to join.
The group has reportedly suffered staggering losses recently in Ukraine, particularly among prison inmates tossed onto the frontline. Out of 270 inmates recruited from one penal colony in the Republic of Bashkortostan, only 30 people are still alive, according to the Russian Telegram channel VChK-OGPu.
Just this week, a media outlet under the control of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin reported on funeral services for a Tanzanian national who came to Russia to study but wound up on the battlefield after Wagner scooped him up from jail.
Tarimo Nemes Raymond died in Bakhmut, RIA-FAN reported, while “defending the interests of the Russian Federation,” despite being a foreign national.
He’s not the first foreign citizen to be ensnared by the mercenary group. Zambian authorities expressed outrage back in November when a 23-year-old engineering student from that country was killed fighting with Wagner in Ukraine, having also been plucked from behind bars.