“There were a lot of people at the opening.” Report “Paper” from “PMC Wagner Center” – it is empty after three weeks of work
The PMC Wagner Center, opened with the support of Yevgeny Prigozhin and named after a group of mercenaries, has been operating in St. Petersburg for three weeks now. The creators of the center talked about grandiose plans, boasted about the residents and promised support for any “ideologically correct” projects.
“Paper” visited the “PMC Wagner Center” and found that the building was empty, and the residents, who were shown to the guests on the opening day, were not there. However, some tenants publicly declared themselves – these are anonymous telegram channels that are engaged in harassment, and little-known anti-Ukrainian media.
Read what is really happening in the Prigogine Center.
“PMC Wagner Center” after three weeks of work. Photo: “Paper”
“PMC Wagner Center” is located at the intersection of Dalnevostochny Prospekt and Zolnaya Street – in a place not very suitable for a business center. Around the railway tracks, gas stations, wasteland and construction.
The center opened almost three weeks ago, on November 4, National Unity Day. Then visitors were shown only the first two floors out of 23. As the Paper found out , the rest are still concrete walls.
How PMC Wagner Center wants to fight liberals and help “ideologically correct” residents
Report “Papers” from the opening
Now the territory of the center is fenced, the entrance is possible through barriers. On Thursday, November 24, Paper found neither the truck with the letter Z on the body, which met guests on the opening day, nor other people. You can’t even see the guards. Only occasionally workers come out of the building for a smoke break – judging by their clothes, they are engaged in the repair of the upper floors.
How did PMC Wagner Center appear? ↓
The entrance to the building is still free, but now you can only get to the residents’ offices with a pass. “Paper” was lucky – they managed to slip to the elevators with one of the employees.
PMC Wagner Center. Photo: “Paper”
What happens inside the “PMC Wagner Center”
– It’s empty here, – the correspondent of “Paper” is surprised .
“Second and third floors [are open],” the man with the pass replies.
I thought there would be more people here. Nobody moved in yet?
Why not? They go sometimes. Only at the opening there were a lot of people, – the interlocutor noted.
Residents could not be found on the second and third floors of the coworking space. Although it was here that bloggers who do not remember the name of their media project, employees of the PolitRash online magazine and the director of the Russian-Serbian Orly Center, who “brings liberals to light” sat indicatively on the first day of the work of the PMC Wagner Center .
Going downstairs and passing by the empty shop windows of the cafeteria, Paper met Anna Zamaraeva, the curator of the Media and Bloggers direction at the PMC Wagner Center and a former LDPR deputy. When asked where all the visitors and residents of the center had gone, she replied:
“[Over the past three weeks] a couple of projects had to be abandoned. [Because] they didn’t get along, for example. Well, or the person was not ready. We select carefully. We try to see how they work in practice: what they write, how they work. But we ourselves do not give any tasks.
Where did all the residents of the center go?
According to Zamaraeva, now all the residents are supposedly busy with pitch sessions, where they defend projects in the field of military engineering and IT technologies. Some of them, she noted, the center has already promised to provide support – media, financial and material.
“[In the future] the media and bloggers information team will talk about what is being created in our center. Without delving into military secrets, of course, – said Zamaraeva.
In total, 37 residents were admitted to the center, the employee says. Among them are the Young Patriot club, Diplomat.ru , the Meanings of the Future YouTube project , the already mentioned PoliRash and the Orly Center, as well as the Cyber Front Z telegram channel . Publicly, “PMC Wagner Center” so far names only residents of the media block, and “IT specialists do not want to reveal themselves.”
Empty offices in PMC Wagner Center. Photo: “Paper”
What is known about the residents of the center
One of the most famous projects that has taken up residence in the PMC Wagner Center is Cyber Front Z, which publishes comments in support of the war, which is considered to be a “troll factory” structure. In particular, he poisoned musicians who did not support the war, whose concerts were later cancelled.
According to Fontanka’s investigation , the “patriotic” Telegram channel appeared in early March, its employees were offered 45,000 rubles a month for “exposing Western fakes” and writing 200 comments a day on social networks. According to the publication, the Cyber Front Z employers are associated with legal entities that, according to the US authorities, are related to Yevgeny Prigozhin and the “troll factory”. Prigozhin himself denies any connection with the channel, but approves of its activities.
After the European Parliament declared Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism” on November 23 and asked that the Wagner PMC be included in the list of terrorist organizations, Prigozhin said that he had prepared an “information case” for the organization – a sledgehammer with, most likely, sham traces of blood. It was Cyber Front Z that was entrusted with sending this case .
How “fighters” were recruited for Cyber Front Z in St. Petersburg
Timur Yusupov, another resident of the Prigogine Center, is also collaborating with Cyber Front Z. The blogger created the channel four years ago, and first made videos on how to improve your mood, resolve conflicts and make dreams come true. Then Yusupov, who presents himself as an educational psychologist, businessman and national security specialist, began to record interviews and reflections – for example , on how to gain superpowers.
Since the beginning of the war, the Meanings of the Future channel has regularly aired videos about countering sanctions and information warfare. In October 2022, Timur Yusupov delivered a lecture at the Cyber Front Z meeting and told like-minded people about the dangers of LGBT propaganda.
PolitRash, one of the first residents of the PMC Wagner Center, is a pro-government online magazine created in 2014 by propagandist Ruslan Ostashko. Back in 2015, the TV channel Dozhd characterized the media project as an “imitation of journalism” with videos about “secret weapons of the American special services”, “fifth column” and “enemies of the regime”.
Ostashko’s contact was mentioned in an SMS correspondence published in 2015 by Timur Prokopenko, deputy head of the internal policy department of the presidential administration of the Russian Federation. From there, it followed that Ostashko was creating a website for referendums in Crimea, was looking for compromising evidence on the official, and planned to launch a fake website of Alexei Navalny to publish the “confessions” of the politician. The Dozhd TV channel included the Ostashko story in a series of reports called “Guardians” – about “patriots” who most likely work for the Kremlin and oppose Navalny on order.
In 2022, both Ruslan Ostashko and his PolitRash, as expected, took an anti-Ukrainian position, which is why the YouTube channel of the project was blocked . In early November, at the opening of the PMC Wagner Center, the creator of the magazine was one of the main speakers and answered questions from guests instead of Prigozhin and other leaders of the center.
Little is known about another resident, Diplomat.ru. This is a media outlet officially registered with Roskomnadzor, managed by Pavel Vagapov – he writes about himself as a professional journalist and blogger who taught master classes at the Seliger forum, and in 2012 he defended his master’s thesis in journalism at St. Petersburg State University.
The Diplomat.ru site itself publishes no more than three news a day, and sometimes takes breaks for a week.
The club “Young Patriot” could not be identified – there are many children’s programs with this name both in St. Petersburg and in other regions of Russia. However, the children participated in the activities of the PMC Wagner Center on the opening day – they were specially invited to a teleconference with Lugansk. On November 4, “Paper” was told that the pupils of the sports club “Lenkai” came to the event. SOTAvision reported that during the teleconference, the center talked about the idea of destroying Russian children, which “penetrates the brain of the entire leadership of the European Union, the United States and their other minions.”
Empty offices in PMC Wagner Center. Photo: “Paper”
What is the future of “PMC Wagner Center”
Now “tens of thousands” of people want to become part of the PMC Wagner Center, media curator Anna Zamaraeva assures Paper .
— Bloggers from Moscow with the nicknames Zanoza and Paper Snake in the telegram asked to be our residents remotely. And we had an idea, why not create an all-Russian residency, she says.
The curator of the media direction of the center notes that the priority direction of the center is development for the needs of the army. According to Zamaraeva, the head of the Wagner group Yevgeny Prigozhin personally comes to select them.
Prigozhin at the PMC Wagner Center defending engineering and IT projects that should help “in the development of the military industry”
According to the Rotunda , instructors for basic military training should start working at the Wagner Center. Earlier, the head of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, himself announced the creation of training centers for the people’s militia in the regions.
However, there are no traces of even the existing 37 residents in the co-working spaces and premises of the business center