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PMC Wagner founder Evgeny Prigozhin announces a ‘people’s militia’ in the Belgorod region

Businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, who recently admitted to founding the Wagner private military company, says that his representative is building “defensive structures” and forming “a people’s militia” in the Belgorod region. 

Prigozhin posted on the Vkontakte page for his company, Concord, in answer to the publication Noviy Den’s question about the so-called “Wagner line” or “Prigozhin line,” which Wagner fighters are now building in the annexed Luhansk region:

We’re working actively with the Belgorod region, where I sent my representative, Hero of Russia Andrey Bogatov, two weeks ago. He is engaged not only in the construction of defensive structures, but also in the creation of a people’s militia on the territory of the Belgorod region. Several enterprises are producing the necessary elements for the defensive structures, and PMC Wagner instructors are training citizens who will defend the region’s borders. Without a doubt, we are ready to offer all possible support to other regions which need to take care of their defense.

Prigozhin did not specify how many people will make up the “militia” in Belgorod, nor who its members will be.

RIA FAN, which is controlled by Prigozhin, wrote on October 14 about the creation of the Belgorod “militia.” Andrey Bogatov, who was born in the region, says the “militia” will be comprised of volunteers.

The situation is fairly calm, for now. On the border, in “the gray zone” there are complications, constant shelling. The 10-kilometer zone is essentially an exclusion zone. We need to get it together: create self-defense units, dig fortified areas, and create a defense system. Of course, the Ministry of Defense has its own affairs, but we’re for ourselves here, we’re locals. And we need to think about our families, about our militia, which will defend our homes directly.

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On October 19, Russian president Vladimir Putin declared martial law in annexed Ukrainian regions.

According to the decree, several Russian regions have special “readiness levels” in effect. In eight Russian regions, including Belgorod, a “medium readiness level” is in effect, while a “high readiness level” is in place in the country’s Central and Southern federal districts.

The Belgorod region has been subject to shelling since the beginning of the war, and the intensity has increased recently. On October 14, train traffic in the region was halted due to a downed missile. On the same day, an electrical substation in Belgorod caught fire, and the next day an oil depot also caught fire. Regional authorities announced that school vacation will start early due to regular shelling.

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