Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner, has made his first video statement since his unsuccessful insurrection in Russia, which shows he is there.
The location of the video’s filming has not been confirmed.
As shown in the video shared on Telegram channels affiliated with the Wagner mercenary group, Prigozhin is dressed for battle while claiming that the organization is “freeing up” Africa.
On the continent, where it has profitable economic interests, Wagner is thought to have thousands of fighters.
Soldiers from Prigozhin are allegedly committing war crimes in places like Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR), according to human rights organizations and the UN.
The UK, last month, imposed sanctions on the two heads of Wagner’s operations in CAR; they accused them of torture and killing civilians.
Wagner fighters have also been accused by the US of enriching themselves with illicit gold deals on the continent.
In the video, Prigozhin says Wagner is exploring for minerals as well as fighting Islamist militants and other criminals.
“We are working. The temperature is +50 – everything as we like. Wagner PMC conducts reconnaissance and search actions; makes Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa even more free,” Prigozhin can be heard saying.
“Justice and happiness – for the African people; we’re making life a nightmare for ISIS (Islamic State) and Al-Qaeda and other bandits.”
He says Wagner is recruiting and the group will “continue fulfilling the tasks that were set – we made promises we would succeed”.
Prigozhin was photographed in St Petersburg during last month’s Africa-Russia summit, shaking hands with Ambassador Freddy Mapouka, a presidential advisor in the CAR.
Prigozhin has been keeping a low public profile since heading his short-lived mutiny in June, which lasted only 24 hours.
About 5,000 Wagner troops seized control of the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don; they moved towards Moscow, with the stated aim of removing the military leadership.
However, Prigozhin stopped the advance after negotiations with the Kremlin, which Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko mediated.