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Military intelligence: Putin's party recruits people for its own mercenary company

by Martin Fornusek January 3, 2024 3:42 PM 1 min read
Russian soldiers patrol a street on April 11, 2022, in Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast. (Illustrative purposes only) (Alexander Nemenov /AFP via Getty Images)
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The Russian ruling party, United Russia, is recruiting members for its own "private army," the mercenary company Hispaniola, Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR) said on Jan. 3.

This adds the group to the list of several mercenary formations that have fought in Russian ranks against Ukraine, the most notable being the Wagner Company.

Hispaniola was previously part of the Russian militant group Vostok Battalion as a volunteer unit of Russian football hooligans. Since 2023, Hispaniola has been under the control of United Russia as a private military company, according to military intelligence.

The ruling party, formally chaired by ex-President Dmitry Medvedev but effectively one of the pillars of Russian leader Vladimir Putin's rule, has reportedly been pouring money into the group and began to actively seek new members.

According to the HUR, the unit is made up of football ultras, radicals, and neo-Nazi sympathizers, but also recruits citizens from poorer Russian regions and occupied territories of Ukraine.

The latter are reportedly used primarily as cannon fodder, military intelligence noted.

At Hispaniola's recruiting centers in occupied Ukraine, volunteers are offered 220,000 rubles ($2,400) per month for direct participation in hostilities for at least half a year.

Recruits are also promised 1-3 million rubles ($10,920-$32,760) as insurance for injuries and 5 million rubles ($54,600) in case of death, military intelligence said.

In practice, such compensations are often omitted as dead and seriously wounded are regularly left behind on the battlefield and registered as "missing" so as not to pay out the insurance, the HUR added.

Hispaniola was reportedly formed in 2022 by militant Stanislav Orlov and Vostok Batallion's leader, Alexander Khodakovsky. The unit claims it had participated in the siege of Azovstal in Mariupol.

The BBC reported last November that in March 2023, Hispaniola parted its ways with Vostok and went under the control of Redut, a private military company run by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Moscow continues to employ irregular mercenaries despite the brief uprising of Wagner Group and its now-deceased leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in June last year.

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