Laruelle , Marlene, and Kelian Sanz Pascual. The Wagnerverse: Pop culture and the heroization of Russian mercenaries.” Russia.Post, June 28, 2022. https://russiapost.info/politics/wagnerverse.
The private military company (PMC) Wagner has once again made international headlines with the arrival of around 1,000 of its employees on battlefields in Ukraine. For its supposed owner Evgeny Prigozhin, this is a return to a familiar environment: his companies began their disinformation activities in Ukraine during the Maidan revolution. However, the PMC is no longer limited to making war or business: it is also involved in a broader strategy of branding Russia in the eyes of foreign, as well as domestic public opinion. This new activity is not so surprising if we recall that Prigozhin himself specializes in Russia’s image abroad and can therefore offer Wagner many of his contacts in the worlds of public relations and show business.
While Russian soft power has been probably irreparably destroyed in the West by the invasion of Ukraine, Wagner’s recent film productions, all dated 2019-2021, have not necessarily been rendered outdated by the war in Ukraine. On the contrary, they continue to speak to European circles that admire survivalism, mercenaries, and non-Asian martial arts, as well as to the Global South.