Youth club Little Wagnerites has been opened in St. Petersburg with support from the PMC Wagner Centre. A correspondent for local media outlet Paper attended an event at the club on 22 February.
Twenty people attended the meeting — they looked to be school pupils or first-year university students. Ksenia, a 15-year-old organiser of the event, would give students an exemption from class if asked.
Special forces officer Viktor Shmarkovsky gave a lecture on methods of recruitment and hypnosis.
“Many of my colleagues served and are serving in PMC Wagner. I have been engaged in the military-patriotic movements and educating youths for many years, I train them. I had to look for young people who fit certain criteria: know several languages, are in good physical condition, and have parents connected to the military field,” Shmarkovsky said.
Head of the club is Alexander Tronin, an ex-member of the youth parliament of St. Petersburg, who was expelled from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia in January. In 2022, he graduated from high school. He was offered the job of heading the club by representatives of PMC Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin.
“We were told: there’s a centre, work with the youths, what you did before, continue doing that, but from scratch. So, we basically started on this project at the beginning of February, for now we only have ideas,” Tronin said.
To become a member of Little Wagnerites, one has to contact organisers on social media and then bring their ID, two photos, and an autobiography to the PMC Wagner Centre. According to Paper, candidates for membership of the youth club are checked by PMC Wagner Centre’s security service.
As of March, the youth club has about 60 members, the head of the project claims.
The first meeting of Little Wagnerites, not announced beforehand, took place on 29 January. It was attended by Sergey Mironov, the leader of political party A Just Russia — For Truth. According to the organisers, the politician told the young people present at the meeting that “PMC Wagner Centre is a great initiative by Yevgeny Prigozhin because here you get an opportunity to create”.
PMC Wagner Centre opened in St. Petersburg at the end of October 2022.
“PMC Wagner Centre is a complex of buildings with spaces for free accommodation of inventors, developers, IT-specialists, experimental productions, and start ups,” Prigozhin said at the time.