Vladimir Putin posed for a banquet photo with a mercenary previously convicted of kidnapping and robbery
Alexander Kuznetsov, one of the heads of the Russian private military contractor “Wagner,” has been spotted in a photograph with Vladimir Putin at a Kremlin reception in December 2016, according to the news site Fontanka. Kuznetsov was previously convicted of kidnapping and robbery. Also in the picture is Dmitry Uktin, Wagner’s leader.
Kuznetsov, known by his call sign “Ratibor” (named after a medieval Polabian prince), commands the mercenary group’s first reconnaissance and assault company. A professional soldier, his special purpose company is based in Solnechnogorsk, outside Moscow.
In 2008, Kuznetsov was arrested on suspicion of robbery and kidnapping. Two years later, he was convicted and imprisoned. Eventually, a court reduced his sentence and he went free in 2013. Within a year, he was a commander at Wagner.
Andrey Bogatov, another man in the photograph with Putin, currently leads Wagner’s fourth reconnaissance and assault company. In 2016, Bogatov was seriously injured in a battle outside Palmyra in Syria. He was hospitalized at the Vishnevsky Central Clinical Hospital, where doctors amputated one of his arms. Bogatov’s son also works at Wagner.
Andrey Troshev is also in the photograph with Putin. Troshev serves as Wagner’s “executive director.” This June, he was hospitalized in St. Petersburg with alcohol poisoning. On his person, paramedics discovered weapons supply lists, maps of Syria, and millions of rubles and thousands of dollars in cash.
According to Fontanka, Troshev was awarded the Hero of Russia honor for assisting in the capture of Palmyra. Bogatov also reportedly won this title. Kuznetsov and Uktin have reportedly won the Order of Courage four times.