Suella Braverman bans Wagner Group as a terrorist group ranking it alongside Islamic State and al-Qaeda
- Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was buried in his home, St Petersburg, last week
Suella Braverman has banned mercenary outfit the Wagner Group as a terrorist group.
The Home Secretary will make Wagner a ‘proscribed’ organisation under anti-terror laws, meaning it now ranks alongside Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
She described Wagner as ‘terrorists, plain and simple’.
Anyone who is a member of the mercenary group, or who shows support for it, will face arrest and prosecution.
The Home Secretary will make Wagner a ‘proscribed’ organisation under anti-terror laws
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was buried in his home city of St Petersburg last week, six days after his death in a plane crash
A flag bearing the logo of private mercenary group Wagner as it flutters in the wind at a makeshift memorial in front of the PMC Wagner office in Novosibirsk, southern Russia
‘While Putin’s regime decides what to do with the monster it created, Wagner’s continuing destabilising activities only continue to serve the Kremlin’s political goals.
‘They are terrorists, plain and simple – and this proscription order makes that clear in UK law.’
She went on: ‘Wagner has been involved in looting, torture and barbarous murders.
‘Its operations in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa are a threat to global security.
‘That is why we are proscribing this terrorist organisation and continuing to aid Ukraine wherever we can in its fight against Russia.’
Draft measures to ban the Wagner Group under the Terrorism Act 2000 will be laid in Parliament today WEDS.
Once passed, supporting it will carry up to 14 years’ imprisonment, and its assets can be categorised as terrorist property and seized.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was buried in his home city of St Petersburg last week, six days after his death in a plane crash.
But there remains speculation that it was a body double, not Prigozhin, who perished.
Pictured: An informal memorial to Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in Moscow
A fighter of the Wagner private military force stands at an informal memorial next to the former ‘PMC Wagner Centre’ in St Petersburg, Russia
A bomb is thought to have been detonated on his Embraer Legacy 600 private jet, although smoke trails seen may indicate the aircraft was targeted by a surface-to-air missile.
The Wagner boss died two months after leading a mutiny against the Kremlin which, briefly, seemed likely to plunge Russia into civil war as Prigozhin and thousands of his soldiers drove from Ukraine towards Moscow.
Putin banished him to Belarus as punishment.
The Commons’ foreign affairs committee called for the Wagner Group to be proscribed in a report published in July.
It said evidence presented to MPs suggested the move would ‘limit Wagner’s access to ports, natural resources, and corridors of power that the group has been able to exploit for the benefit of the Russian Federation’.
The Wagner boss died two months after leading a mutiny against the Kremlin which, briefly, seemed likely to plunge Russia into civil war as Prigozhin and thousands of his soldiers drove from Ukraine towards Moscow
The MPs added: ‘A proscription may also support legal action against Wagner members in British courts, encourage whistle-blowers to come forward, and allow the use of pre-existing international mechanisms of counter-terrorist financing.’ The report said ‘risks of a proscription include the possibility that it would drive the network ‘underground’, as well as causing damage to the UK’s diplomatic ties with affected countries’.
But it concluded: ‘The Government should proscribe the Wagner Network as a terrorist organisation, recognising that-while there are risks of doing so-there are also risks of failing to do so.’
Wagner’s co-founder Dmitry Utkin named it after Hitler’s favourite composer because, according to investigative website Bellingcat, he had ‘an obsessive fascination with the history of the Third Reich’.
Currently, 78 international terrorist groups are proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000, with 14 further Northern Ireland organisations including the IRA banned under earlier legislation.