Russia's Wagner mercenary group has resumed recruiting fighters in at least two regions months after the death of its founder and longtime leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, local media have reported.
Wagner halted recruitment in the chaotic months following Prigozhin's late-June mutiny against Russia’s military leadership. In August, Prigozhin and his close associates were killed in a plane crash that is widely believed to have been an assassination plot orchestrated by the Kremlin.
According to the online news outlets 59.ru and NGS.ru, the private military company has started to recruit fighters as part of Russia's National Guard (Rosgvardia) in the central Perm region and the Novosibirsk region in Siberia.
“The emblems and symbols remain the same,” an anonymous Wagner spokesperson was quoted as saying by 59.ru, while the Novosibirsk outlet NGS.ru was told by another Wager source that the new “contracts are signed not with the Defense Ministry, but Rosgvardia.”
It was unclear if new recruits would be sent to fight in Ukraine.
Prigozhin’s 25-year-old son Pavel is reportedly heading the new National Guard unit under the nominal title of “Wagner.”
Wagner, which had recruited prisoners alongside volunteer fighters, played a key role in Moscow's capture of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut earlier this year.
In July, Russia’s Defense Ministry required all “volunteer detachments” to sign contracts with the military — a demand vehemently opposed by Prigozhin.