Russia's private security company, Wagner, yesterday said it intended to pay 18 million Russian rubles ($304,855) to two of its members who were arrested in Libya on espionage charges in 2019 and were released last week.
The announcement came in a statement issued by Concord Management and Consulting, which is being run by the Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin – who owns Wagner.
The statement noted that Prigozhin would pay 18 million rubles to Maxim Shogali and his translator of Jordanian origins Samer Swivan after their return home.
Russian has claimed that Shogali and Swivan were in Libya as "academic researchers working in a research institution." But the Libyan government leaked documents showing that the two people were "agents for Wagner" and that they were in Libya "to conduct field research."
International security reports revealed they had been released on 10 December. No confirmation was issued by Libyan authorities.
The Wagner group is reportedly managed and operated by Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It has been involved across the world in countries such as Ukraine, Syria, Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Earlier this month, the US Department of Defence indicated that the United Arab Emirates is financing Russian Wagner mercenaries operating in Libya.
In Libya, Wagner mercenaries are assisting Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar against the Tripoli-based government. There are claims that they are responsible for atrocities against civilians. Allegations include the laying of land mines in civilian areas when retreating with Haftar's forces in the summer.