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UK to ban Russia’s Wagner Group as ‘terrorist’ organisation

The Wagner Group, whose private mercenaries have been accused of brutalities as they helped Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, was led by Yevgeny Prigozhin until his death on August 23
The Wagner Group, whose private mercenaries have been accused of brutalities as they helped Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, was led by Yevgeny Prigozhin until his death on August 23 - Copyright AFP -
The Wagner Group, whose private mercenaries have been accused of brutalities as they helped Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, was led by Yevgeny Prigozhin until his death on August 23 - Copyright AFP -

The UK government said on Wednesday it would ban Russian mercenary outfit the Wagner Group by listing it as a terrorist organisation.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said a draft proscription order had been put before parliament that would make it illegal to support the group and punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

The ban would put Wagner on a par with the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah which have also been proscribed by the British government.

“Wagner is a violent and destructive organisation which has acted as a military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas,” Braverman said in a statement.

“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 said, adding that its operations were a “threat to global security”.

Under the UK’s Terrorism Act 2000, the home secretary has the power to proscribe an organisation if they believe it is involved in terrorism.

The move follows calls by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky for the group to be treated as a terrorist body.

“Proscribing Wagner sends a clear message that the UK will not tolerate Russia’s proxies and their barbaric actions in Ukraine, and condemns Wagner’s campaign of corruption and bloodshed on the African continent,” added UK Security Minister Tom Tugendhat.

The ban will make it illegal to support or assist the group or display its logo.

Law enforcers will also be able to seize any property belonging to the private military company.

Once agreed, it will come into force on September 13.

In July, Britain announced sanctions against 13 individuals and businesses it said had links to the Russian group in Africa, accusing it of crimes there including killings and torture.

The people and entities targeted — which are no longer able to deal with UK citizens, companies and banks, and have any UK assets frozen — were allegedly involved in Wagner’s activities in Mali, Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan.

They included the purported head of Wagner in Mali, Ivan Aleksandrovitch Maslov; its chief in CAR, Vitalii Viktorovitch Perfilev; and the group’s operations head there, Konstantin Aleksandrovitch Pikalov.

Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died last month in a plane crash, had already been sanctioned by Britain alongside several of his key commanders who had participated in Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Prigozhin — a Kremlin confidant turned “traitor” — died two months after ordering his troops to topple Russia’s military leadership.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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