Russia Promotes Mercenary Activities: YouTube Hosts the Wagner Group Advertising

On January 26, 2023, the United States imposed sanctions on companies and people affiliated with the Wagner Group, recognizing it as a transnational criminal organization. According to the US Department of the Treasury, the group is responsible for and is engaged in the targeting of women, children, or any civilians through the commission of acts of violence, or abduction, forced displacement, or attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites, or locations where civilians are seeking refuge.

Despite this, the owner of the criminal organization Yevgeny Prigozhin continues to use Internet resources for PR, promotion, and advertising.

So, YouTube video hosting does not block the Wagner group ads on its site. There are a lot of videos glorifying Russian war criminals, and the number of views exceeds 3-4 million. With the help of propaganda videos, the criminal organization raises funds for ammunition, proposes to conclude contracts for the war in Ukraine, distributes harmful propaganda, etc. It is worth recalling, content intended to praise, promote and aid violent extremist or criminal organizations is not allowed on YouTube. PornHub, the most popular porn site in the world, does the same thing. The Wagner Group is advertising on adult video hosting. It calls to go to war, and also includes a phone number that really belongs to PMC’s recruiters.

Russia widely uses the Internet as a way to promote its propaganda and popularize militaristic organizations, including the Wagner Group. Its YouTube ad is a confirmation of the Russian threat that has penetrated the virtual space, including on the West’s platforms. Such manifestations of the Russian hybrid threat must be stopped, otherwise it is fraught with an increase of risks and threats from the Russian Federation.