Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Russian private military company Wagner Group, will pay 18 million rubles ($244,000) each to two Russian citizens who were detained in Libya in 2019 on spying charges and released last week.
According to a statement by Prigozhin's company Concord, Maxim Shugaley and Samer Hasan Ali Sueyfan were released on Dec. 10 after 18 months in prison and have returned to Russia.
Prigozhin decided to provide 1 million rubles ($13,560) per month or 18 million rubles per person in total for each month of their imprisonment, the statement said.
The Russian government had argued that the two men were academic researchers affiliated with a think tank, but the Libyan government announced that they were intelligence agents who were conducting field research associated with the Wagner Group.
The Libyan security service found a memory stick confirming that Shugaley and Sueyfan were conspiring with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libya's former leader Moammar Gadhafi, on taking power in the county.
The Wagner Group has been instrumental in assisting Russia to achieve its military goals in Ukraine, Sudan, Syria and Libya.
Russia, mainly through the Wagner Group, as well as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt, have backed putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar in his fight to seize power from the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.
The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) on July 24 accused Russia of “playing an unhelpful role in Libya by delivering supplies and equipment to the Wagner Group.”
The Wagner Group has 2,000 personnel in Libya, according to the command.