March 2. 2024. 2:31

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Belgian Greens want Wagner Group added to EU terrorist list


Belgium should ensure that the Russian paramilitary organisation Wagner Group is included in the European list of terrorist organisations, according to calls from Green parties Ecolo and Groen.

The two sister parties, one French-speaking, the other Flemish, have tabled a motion for a resolution in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives.

“We are talking about a ruthless, extremely cruel organisation that consistently disregards human rights and the laws of war,” Groen party leader Wouter De Vriendt said on Tuesday as he proposed the resolution with Ecolo MP Samuel Cogolati.

“Wagner should be placed on the list of terrorist organisations” at the European level, Cogolati added.

The Russian paramilitary organisation is particularly active in Syria and Mali, among other African countries – and Ukraine.

It has been accused of war crimes, particularly in the Central African Republic, where mercenaries have carried out mass executions, acts of torture, arbitrary detentions and the forced displacement of civilians, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In Ukraine, around 50,000 Wagner mercenaries are said to be active, particularly in the war-torn city of Bakhut, in the Donetsk region. The group is sometimes described as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “private army, ” founded by his close ally, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

“Everywhere the Wagner militia acts, it spreads fear and destruction among the local population,” De Vriendt said, adding that “it also has a clear political agenda, carries out propaganda against the West, and is the armed force of Russian interests, anywhere in the world. To support Ukraine also means to confront the Wagner Group by any means necessary,” De Morgen reported.

The Wagner Group was labelled an international criminal organisation by the United States a few weeks ago. Earlier this year, the European Union imposed individual sanctions on 11 individuals and companies linked to the paramilitary organisation.

Moreover, according to several national parliaments – including Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, and even the European Parliament – “the Wagner group meets the necessary criteria to be added to the list of European terrorist entities”, Cogolati said in La Libre.

Last November, the European Parliament was targeted by a major cyber-attack just hours after MEPs voted to recognise Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The Belgian Greens now also want to hit the Russian mercenary army by adding it to the list of terrorist organisations.

According to Cogolati, the draft resolution should be welcomed in the Belgium Chamber as “there is a consensus among democrats and pro-Europeans to go further in the fight against Wagner”. In the European Parliament, the Belgian majority parties all voted to add Wagner to the list.

By adding the Wagner Group to the European list of terrorist organisations, anyone who provides financial or material support to the Wagner Group – or any other organisation on this list – would be committing a crime.

However, such a decision may only be taken at the initiative of a member state.

(Arthur Riffaud | EURACTIV.com)