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TikTok has a problem with Wagner, the Russian mercenary group accused of war crimes


According to a report by News Guard, TikTok has been repeatedly used – with important results – by the Russian government to promote its narrative on the conflict in Ukraine. Recently some videos celebrating the infamous mercenary group ‘Wagner amassed over 1 billion views, going viral.


NewsGuard has identified more than 160 videos released with the aim of “alluding to, displaying or glorifying acts of violence” committed by the mercenary group. Wagner was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, whom the BBC calls “a valuable ally of Vladimir Putin”.

Fourteen of the videos examined show the murder of Yevgeny Nuzhin , a former Wagner Group mercenary engaged in the conflict in Ukraine and later accused of treason by his former fellow soldiers. Before being removed by TikTok moderators, one of the videos showing her executing him had been viewed at least 900,000 times.

Nuzhin had been jailed for murder, only to be released after he decided to join the ranks of the Wagner group. After being captured by the Ukrainian army, Nuzhin told the story of him to several independent media outlets, denouncing Wagner’s modus operandi.


According to the BBC, Nuzhin was then handed back to the Russians again in what was likely a prisoner exchange. Once in the hands of his former comrades, Nuzhin was hacked to death and his execution was filmed and broadcast online.


NewsGuard denounced TikTok’s algorithms, arguing that they helped spread the videos, putting the search for viral content before respecting decency and protecting user safety. Prior to the non-profit’s complaint, if the query Wagner was searched in TikTok’s internal search engine, the application offered the user to search for the query ” Wagner Execution ” or ” Wagner Sledgehammer “. ‘ Wagner Orchestra ‘ was suggested immediately after other queries always connected to the execution.

In a note, a TikTok spokesperson reiterated that the site’s guidelines prohibit the sharing of content that glorifies violence or shows gruesome and inhumane scenes.



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