The Wagner Group recruits mercenaries through the Russian social media VKontakte; and due to the shortage of personnel, drug dealers, citizens hiding from the police, and people with Nazi tattoos are accepted for "work".
Source: video of the Sistemy investigative project
Quote: "An outstanding conviction for selling drugs, a swastika tattoo, being wanted for robbery – all this will not be an obstacle for those who want to sign a contract with Wagner Group and go to war in Ukraine."
Details: In addition to advertising on regional television, billboards on the street and posted adverts, the Russian social media site VKontakte is actively advertising an invitation to the front line.
The Sistemy project discovered dozens of advertisements targeted at various areas of Russia, and spoke with the Wagner call centre employees.
There are virtual recruitment centres in many areas of the Russian Federation, in occupied Crimea and occupied Donbas.
Journalists using different cover stories tried to be recruited into the private military company. It turned out that, although actual messages sent to potential recruits via messengers indicate that people with a criminal record for drug distribution will be rejected, in practice people with such outstanding criminal records, and people hiding from the police, and football hooligans [trained athletes who don't care about football in principle, but who are engaged in organising fights somewhere outside the city so that people don't see it, and later post it all on the Internet – ed.] with Nazi tattoos.
The unsuspecting recruiters also admitted that "Prigozhin's army" in Ukraine is suffering heavy losses.
Why it is important: Russian propaganda claims that they are fighting against neo-Nazis in Ukraine.