Devil’s Advocate, Translated by Matas Zinkevicius

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From a recruitment speech given at a Russian prison by the leader of the Wagner Group, a mercenary company that operates as a proxy for the Russian government. Footage of the speech was obtained by the BBC in September. Translated from the Russian.

I’m a representative of a private military company—perhaps you’ve heard of it, it’s called the Wagner Group. We need shock troops. Sixty percent of my guys are shock troops and you will be one of them. You will not differ from us in any way. We will treat you the same, sometimes with even more loyalty than those who have fought with me for many years. The first prisoners who fought with me, on June 1, went into the enemy’s trenches and cut them up with knives. Of the three dead, one was fifty-two years old, and had spent thirty years in prison. He died heroically.

The first sin is desertion. No one backs out and no one retreats. No one turns themselves in. When you undergo training, they will tell you about the grenades you will need to have in case you are captured.

The bodies of those who are killed will be returned to the place indicated in their will. Those who don’t know where they want to be buried we will bury at the chapel of PMC Wagner in Goryachy Klyuch.

You will go home after half a year, having received a pardon. For those who arrive on the first day and say, “There has been a mistake, I shouldn’t be here,” we will make a note that says “deserter” and execute them by shooting.

After I tell you everything, there will be a meeting. I will spend some time there, and a few people will stay to look into your eyes. You will have five minutes to make a decision. After that, it’s all up to luck. I am taking you out of here alive. But I may not bring you back alive.

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