The once-secretive Wagner Group controlled by close Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin opened a multistory military technology center in St. Petersburg on Nov. 4.
Wagner representative Konstantin Dolgov present at the opening said the center would be a “think tank, where people, united by one goal, will work on the implementation of certain tasks for the benefit of the Russian Federation," the Moscow Times reported.
Having long denied being the head of Wagner, the move is seen as an attempt by Prigozhin to boost his military credentials and position himself as a public figure key to Russia's defense policy.
Prigozhin publicly confirmed in September that he was the founder of the group.
He has openly criticized the Russian military's performance in Ukraine and Wagner Group mercenaries are known to be operating in the war.
The Wagner Group has been accused of human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial killings, in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, and Mozambique.
for an independent Ukraine