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  • August 19, 2017

Russian business interests in Syria

Journalistic investigation: Russian companies emulate the English pirating experience

Russia is currently following the example set by the British in the 15th century who used privateers. Fontanka has investigated Russian business interests in Syria.

Syria – the territory of war and business

The events started to unfold in December 2016, when the Syrian minister of oil and gas came to Moscow to sign a number of contracts that proved to be sensational.

The Russian companies pledged to free the gas and oil fields in Syria for the Bashar Asad government for a 25% stake in revenues from all gas and oil extracted thereafter. According to assessments made my journalists, it may total USD 25 million. Afterwards, combat operations are to be awarded.

Beneficiaries

Who is to fight for the Syrian oil and gas fields and benefit from it? The company turned out to be one with a story to tell.

The company in question is Euro Polis, owned by Eugene Prigozhin – also known as “the Kremlin cook”. His companies have a near-monopoly on the huge market of supplying foodstuffs to the Russian military and law enforcement. They also provide services at all events involving top Russian officials.

In fact, Prigozhin’s business interests are far wider: He owns the so called “trolling conveyor” meant to intimidate and harass opposition activists online, spread propaganda and fakes.

He is also the owner of a media company with an audience of 36 million.

Another Syrian contractor is Stroitransgaz, owned by Gennady Timchenko, a former KGB operative and a friend of Vladimir Putin.

Actors

Neither Euro Polis nor Stroitransgaz possess the military capacity to free any territory, whatever the benefits are.

Who then is to conduct such operations?

Thus enters an unusual organization called the ‘League To Support Local Wars and Military Conflicts Veterans’. The leaders and rank and file members of the organization are employees of Prigozhin’s security service. At the same time they are closely connected with a structure known as ‘Wagner`s private army’.

It has no legal status, but was involved in operations in Donbass (on the separatists side) and Syria (supporting Asad). Wagner is the nickname of it’s leader. Despite the fact that the organization has no legal status, it`s members were given official military awards.

Analogs are hard to find in modern times, Fontanka reports. Something of the kind was common practice in the 15th (and onwards) centuries in Britain, where the government used privateers who attacked the ships belonging to its major rival – Spain.