The Elusive Figure Running Wagner’s Embattled Empire of Gold and Diamonds – by Benoit Faucon and Gabriele Steinhauser (Wall Street Journal – September 21, 2023)

Following Prigozhin’s death, business school grad Dmitry Sytii is working to preserve the group’s multibillion-dollar African operations

T-shirts have appeared on the streets of the Central African Republic’s capital recently picturing a bearded man with flowing hair and an almost saintly look. The image, reminiscent of a revolutionary Che Guevara, is of 34-year-old Dmitry Sytii, the current frontman of the Wagner paramilitary group in Africa.

Since his boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, died in an apparent assassination last month, Sytii has been thrust to the center of an emerging battle over the fate of Wagner’s sprawling multibillion-dollar African empire of mercenaries, gold, lumber and diamonds. With his intimate knowledge of Wagner’s front companies and smuggling networks, the polyglot, Western-educated Sytii is likely to play a pivotal role.

The war-torn Central African Republic has been the nerve center of Wagner’s activities in Africa and the hub of its business operations. Sytii is so close to the nation’s politicians that he lives and works in a luxurious villa in the capital, Bangui, that once was the president’s official residence. It is surrounded by an army camp occupied by Wagner fighters.

Sytii navigates the city’s teeming streets in a silver Toyota SUV with no license plates, visiting upscale restaurants and senior government officials. He travels regularly to neighboring countries such as Cameroon and Chad.

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