Over the weekend of June 23-24, mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin led an armed convoy of his Wagner troops towards Moscow in a short-lived mutiny which was halted late that Saturday.
The Wagner fighters, who were involved in some of the bloodiest fighting as part of Russian’s war against Ukraine, were cheered enthusiastically by residents in Rostov-on-Don on Saturday when they briefly took control of the southern Russian city.
In spite of Russian President Vladimir Putin describing their actions as “treason” and “a stab in the back” for Russia, the popularity shown by the public in Rostov has been transmitted to online sales of Wagner merchandise and subsequent price increases.
A clothes patch depicting the Wagner skull that was offered for sale on the e-commerce site Wildberries for $3.50 a week ago is now listed at $6. A black T-shirt showing a Wagner fighter holding a violin jumped from $14 to $19.
Wildberries and its main rival Ozon offer a wide range of Wagner “souvenirs” reminiscent of a football club memorabilia store, including flags, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, mobile phone covers, keyrings, a huge range of T-shirts and sweatshirts, and even a Wagner charge card.
The site also allowed reviews to be left and, while a few commented on the quality of the items being sold, most were in praise of Prigozhin and the private military group.
“The Wagner Private Military Company is the best. Good luck to you guys. The flag is excellent.”
“Very beautiful and original keyring,” said one customer, who left a five-star review. “In memory of all those in Wagner's ranks who died.”
Also popular on other sites and on market stalls in a number of Russian cities are Prigozhin face masks, which are for sale alongside those of Putin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny, as well as international and Russian pop stars and celebrities.
Wagner, many of whose troops were former convicts granted their freedom in exchange for serving in Ukraine, has suffered a large number of casualties on the battlefield in Ukraine.
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