Poland detains two Russians for spreading Wagner ‘propaganda’

Two Russians accused of spreading propaganda on behalf of the Wagner mercenary group in the two biggest cities of Poland, Warsaw and Krakow, have been arrested, said Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski, on Monday (August 14). This comes amid mounting tensions between European Union member Poland and Russian ally Belarus after the mercenary group’s fighters were sent to Minsk to live in exile. 

What are the two Russians accused of?

According to a statement by the press office of the minister responsible for coordinating special services, the duo distributed around 300 leaflets in the two Polish cities, which were among around 3,000 pro-Wagner items of propaganda in their possession. 

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The Polish counter-intelligence agency identified the two men as Alexei T. and Andrei G., without providing any further details. The two men were arrested on Friday after they distributed leaflets containing links to “recruitment websites” for the Wagner group, said the Polish agency. 

It added, “The Russians had on them more than 3,000 propaganda leaflets promoting the Wagner group. The material was given to them in Moscow.” According to Polish officials, the duo was set to leave the country on Saturday and receive up to 500,000 roubles ($4,930) from Russian authorities for the “commissioned tasks”. 

Charges against two men

“Both were charged with espionage, among other things,” said the Polish interior minister, on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

Prosecutors charged the Russian men with “activities for foreign intelligence against Poland” as well as association with and recruitment for a mercenary service banned under international law, and the promotion of symbols and names supporting Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, said the press office statement. 

The two Russians who have been remanded in pre-trial custody face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, it added. 

What was on the leaflets?

According to Polish media reports, stickers promoting the Russian mercenary group began appearing last week. They reportedly had the Wagner logo, a slogan in English saying, “We are here. Join us,” and a QR code that redirected people to a Russian website about the mercenary group.

Poland ramps up border security

Last week, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that the country is planning to move up to 10,000 additional troops to the border with Belarus to support the Border Guard. 

This was a day after Wasik told the state-run news agency PAP that Warsaw would deploy 2,000 additional troops to combat purported illegal crossings and maintain cross-border stability.

Poland has been ramping up security along its border with Belarus – a close ally of Russia – after mercenary group Wagner sent its troops to Minsk in exile following their chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s aborted mutiny in Russia. 

(With inputs from agencies) 

Disclaimer: A number of claims and counterclaims are being made on Ukraine-Russia war on the ground and online. While WION takes utmost care to accurately and responsibly report ongoing developments, we cannot independently verify the authenticity of all statements, photos and videos.

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