"Wagner is not a company; it is just a name or label that has been given to a group of individuals involved in paramilitary activities and has morphed over time," says Kimberly Marten, a professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University, who has been studying the group for some time.Wagner’s founder is Dmitry Utkin, a former Russian military intelligence officer who first showed up in the Crimea. The group takes its name from Utkin’s declared support for the Third Reich in the way German composer Richard Wagner appeared to endorse the ideas of Nazi Germany.Exactly how and when financier Yevgeny Prigozhin became involved with Wagner is unclear, but there is no doubt that he has extensive ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Marten."He [is] a convicted criminal who got out of prison in the 1990s and started a hot-dog stand, which he developed into a successful restaurant chain. He probably met Putin when Putin was assisting the mayor of St Petersburg in ...

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