The Russian portal "RT Balkan" published the good news under the title "The Wagner Group published an advertisement for volunteers, the conditions are more than tempting". The ad stated that Yevgeny Prigozhin's paramilitary company is looking for volunteers between the ages of 22 and 50, who are not citizens of Ukraine, one of the countries of the EU or the NATO alliance. Potential paramilitary mercenaries are expected to be healthy (physically), and the main thing is that "those who come forward are really interested in learning, that they are patriots and that they are strong in spirit, and everything else will be taught by the Wagnerians".
Since the "Wagner Group" operates in various parts of the world, the advertisement specifies that the volunteer dogs of war will be sent "to the special military operation zone" (in other words: to the battlefield in Ukraine). Potential participants in the aggression were promised a high salary, health and life insurance, as well as compensation of five million rubles, which will be paid to the family in case of death.
Advertisement for volunteers
The public reacted quickly to this attempt by the Russian media to intervene in the recruitment of mercenaries from Serbia, the most vocal was the representative of the coalition "Together for Vojvodina - the people of Vojvodina" Aleksandar Olenik, so the text mysteriously disappeared from the RT Balkan website. Instead of an ad for a well-paid job killing Ukrainian civilians, the same link now has a text entitled "The first group of prisoners served their military service: They are going home with decorations."
The text talks about prisoners who became a part of the Wagner Group, served a tour in a paramilitary formation, and then peacefully return to live in freedom since all previous court proceedings against them have been withdrawn. Only at the end of the article is the notice: "The Wagner Group has, by the way, published an ad for the recruitment of new members on its accounts on social networks". So who is interested in demolishing and killing in Ukraine for a good salary, let him inform himself, RT Balkan has completed its patriotic and informative task.
It is not easy for the Russian propagandists here either. Serbia is still not officially a vassal state, although it usually behaves like that, the situation is a bit hazy and unclear, so you never know if you can openly violate the laws of the host country or if it should be wrapped up in some kind of fluff. A truly intolerable situation for every honest worker in the field of war propaganda.
The bloody sledgehammer of Yevgeny Prigozhin
For some time now, Prigozhin’s company has been filling the paramilitary ranks with long-term convicts, among whom are multiple murderers, rapists, robbers and the most serious criminals. About 40,000 have been recruited so far. Recently, a program about the serial killer Mihail Popkov, known by the nicknames Warewolf and Maniac, was broadcast on Russian state television. Popkov was sentenced to two life sentences for the murder of 83 women whom he first raped and then brutally took their lives with an axe, hammer, knife, screwdriver and shovel. In an interview for state television that took place in prison, Popkov expressed his desire to join Prigozhin's Wagner Group. We will see if his request will be answered, the man has rich experience in the skills that the Russian army and paramilitary practice in Ukraine, so there is no reason for him to be rejected, especially since the Wagner Group has received powerful criminals with incomparably less rape and murderous effect.
In November of last year, a gruesome video appeared on the Telegram channel of the "Wagner Group”, purportedly showing the brutal murder of a member of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Nuzhin, who intended to change sides and fight against Russian forces. In the video, it can be seen that fellow members of the Wagner Group kill him with a sledgehammer. Yevgeny Prigozhin accompanied that video with the words: "A dog's death for a dog". He later denied that members of his paramilitary killed Nuzhin, but immediately afterwards he published a video of him sending a bloodied mallet to the European Parliament.
The video shows how Prigozhin's associate Igor Yeliseev, who brings a violin case to his boss, opens it, and in it is a mallet with bloody handprints on the handle. This is what Prigozhin's "joking" comment looks like on the fact that the European Parliament declared Russia a "state that finances terrorism" and announced that it will declare the "Wagner Group" a terrorist organization.
Serbs and the Wagner Group, brothers forever
A really nice organization, no wonder it is becoming more and more popular in Serbia. In the meantime, a mural dedicated to the Wagner group appeared in the centre of Belgrade, with a smiling red skull and two rockets. The "National Patrol" organization, which maintains close ties with Russia and the "Wagner Group", and harasses immigrants in its free time, claimed to be the author of this piece of wall art. The mural didn't last long, anti-war activists took care of it.
Last year, the media speculated that the "Wagner Group" had opened a centre called "Eagles" in Serbia. This was denied by one of the representatives of the Wagner Group, Aleksandar Lisov. He announced that the new building of the Wagner Center in St. Petersburg "has new tenants - 'Orlov', a right-wing organization whose goal is to strengthen friendly relations between Serbia and Russia using soft power." Representatives of the "People's Patrol" visited the Wagner Center at the end of November, and the leader of this organization, Damnjan Knežević, said: "Many of my friends will be proud that I had the honour of visiting the Wagner Center.
That centre and that organization are extremely popular in Serbia". In the words of a popular slogan: Serbs and the Wagner Group, brothers forever.
High-ranking American officials are increasingly monitoring the activities of the "Wagner Group" outside of Ukraine, and American intelligence officers are gathering information about what this group is doing in countries such as the Central African Republic, Mali, and Serbia. State Department adviser, Derek Chollet, also spoke about this when he recently visited Serbia. Chollet expressed concern about the presence of the "Wagner Group" in Serbia and their attempts to recruit soldiers in Serbia and other countries. Answering the journalist's questions, Chollet said: "We are working with the Government of Serbia and other countries to put an end to these activities." The aforementioned words were uttered on January 12, just a week after the so-called advertisement appeared on "RT Balkan", no wonder it disappeared without a trace in the meantime.
Vučić, a martyr for Russian art
Serbian officials reacted differently to the "Wagner Group’s" attempt to reduce unemployment in our country by sending volunteers to the Ukrainian battlefield. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivica Dačić, chose the strategy of not being informed, saying that he did not know about the ad. Then, as usual, he reminded that "there are clear laws that define that Serbia does not allow participation and punishes all those who participate in hostilities outside the territory of Serbia". There are various laws in this country, they are just not used, there is no one to enforce them.
The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, denied rumours that the "Wagner Group” is present in Serbia, and then he condemned the aforementioned ad and shouted in the direction of Russian friends, probably referring to RT Balkan and their Kremlin masters. "What are you doing to Serbia, why are you calling someone from Serbia when you know that it is against our laws?" Vučić asked. The president got used to the role of the victim, which is difficult for him, so he told his "Russian friends" that it is not fair to someone who suffers because he did not punish Tchaikovsky, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy. We gave up everything for you, we voluntarily isolated ourselves from the world, not because we support the destruction of Ukraine and mass slaughter, but out of pure, selfless, noble love for art, especially Russian, and this is how you respond.
Vučić's question is rhetorical and somewhat missed. RT Balkan publishes such content because it's their job, that's why they came to Serbia. And they came to Serbia because Vučić allowed them to do so, which he didn’t do reluctantly, but with great enthusiasm and delight. Back during the election campaign, in the spring of last year, to opposition criticism that RT would start working in Serbia, Vučić responded, full of libertarian pride: "Some of them want to put all of us who think differently into camps, they would ban anyone who disagrees. Many think that only they have media freedom". And now the devil is to blame, he simply doesn't know what to do with such wonderful people if they publish ads that make Serbia a direct accomplice of the aggression against Ukraine.
Serbia defends itself in Zaporizhia
At a bad hour, photos and videos appeared showing Serbian volunteers who are already on the battlefield in Ukraine, as part of the "Pavel Sudoplatov" battalion. Since the fighters are wearing masks, it is difficult to determine their identity, but in pure Serbian, they sing about how they came to help their Russian brothers. One masked vigilante was particularly eloquent, so he explained where he was from on the spot: "We saw the same events, as in Yugoslavia in the nineties, the same evil empire, NATO, Great Britain, America, are now working against our brothers and now we have come here to help them". As one would say: Serbia is defending itself in Zaporizhia.
In vain, President Vučić reminds that there is a law in Serbia that prohibits Serbian citizens from participating in foreign battlefields, as well as organizing and recruiting Serbian citizens to fight abroad. Serbian volunteers have been fighting on the Russian side since Russia's first invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Competent authorities look through their fingers because Serbia has long been a Russian-colonial state, so they judge them when they really have to, and that they do very favourably. By the beginning of 2018, the High Court in Belgrade had convicted 28 Serbian citizens for participating in the war in Ukraine. Only four were stuck in prison, and all the others were given suspended sentences and are at liberty.
Demolition in D minor
The case of Bratislava Živković, the commander of the Chetnik movement, who participated in the battles in Ukraine for years, which he proudly informed the public about, and which the right-wing press zealously reported, is characteristic. He was arrested only in 2018, and the investigation was suspended in 2019. Živković then announced that he was returning to "his work" in Donetsk. The media recently reported that Živković, who in the meantime became the captain of the Guards Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, was wounded during the occupation of the village of Majorsk near Horlivka, underwent surgery and was transferred to a hospital in Moscow, where he will recover for the next eight months. So much for the implementation of the law, which, like its numerous paragraph colleagues, is a dead letter on the corpse's paper.
All of Vučić's efforts are in vain, he has created an atmosphere in which the employment of Russian mercenaries in Serbia is a completely normal phenomenon. If he didn't punish Tchaikovsky, even though no one asked him to do so, why would he punish the "Wagner Group"? The president is a great admirer of this collective paramilitary composer, which is why his compositions have become extremely popular here, especially "Demolition of Ukraine in D minor", "Concert for sledgehammer and Kalashnikov orchestra", "Rafalna symphony in G major", "March to Mariupol", and “Requiem for Buča”. Serbia has been playing the way Russia has been playing for a long time anyway. With the sounds of the "Wagner Group’s" sledgehammer.