A recent WSJ video has identified a man in the Russian delegation to Africa as Konstantin Mirzayants, the head of Redut, a Russian private military company (PMC) that acts as a recruitment proxy for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

According to the video, the visit – as well as Mirzayants’ alleged presence – was part of President Vladimir Putin’s plan to transfer Wagner’s assets under Russian government control. In the delegation was also Andrei Averyanov, an influential figure within the Russian intelligence structure who is suspected to have been involved in a plane crash that killed former Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

A man shown in the video closely resembles Konstantin Yurievich Mirzayants, a former Russian paratrooper investigated for his involvement in the murder of journalist Dmitry Kholodov in the 1990s.

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An earlier British parliamentary inquiry identified one K. Merzoyants – likely an alternative spelling of the name – as the head of Redut.

Mirzayants was listed as the vice president of a group called “Rus,” a veteran association in Russia with multiple security companies under its belt. According to the site, its aim was to provide assistance to former military personnel – including employment.

“One of the main areas of work of ‘Rus’ is the employment of retired special forces soldiers who were dismissed from service due to illness or injury,” the site claims.

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The site also provided a basic background of Mirzayants’ military career:

“Graduated from the Ryazan Higher Airborne Twice Red Banner School named after Lenin Komsomol. He served in the 83rd Separate Air Assault Brigade in Bialogard (Poland), as a platoon commander in the Airborne Forces in Ussuriysk, in the 218th separate special purpose battalion of the Airborne Forces. Awarded the Order of Courage and ‘For Personal Courage.’”

According to Russian tax records, another council member of the group, Sergey Viktorovich Zhuravlev, had partial shares in some of the security companies and co-owned an entity called “ESTREAM” with Mirzayants and the “Rus” association itself.

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As for Mirzayants, tax records have shown that he is a founder of a logistic company called “F-Broker” and a water company based in Rostov-on-Don called “Chistaya voda” (meaning clean water in Russian).

One company under Mirzayants’ name called “STIX” reported revenue of 2.4 million rubles in 2022, but a profit of only 59,000 rubles, indicating potential tax evasions, or it could just be a shell company.

There have been conflicting accounts as to the background and operations of Redut – the anonymous source from the British parliament inquiry claimed Redut was created to protect the Middle Eastern interests of Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch close to Putin.

However, investigations from Radio Free Europe have discovered deep ties between Redut and Russia’s Intelligence Directorate (GRU), and first-hand accounts from Redut fights have suggested that Redut is merely a recruitment front for the GRU.

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It is possible that Redut’s role has changed as the war in Ukraine continues to unfold, especially in the aftermath of Prigozhin’s mutiny. An earlier Kyiv Post report stated that some former Wagner fighters had likely joined the Redut structure.

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