In a video that emerged Tuesday, the de facto leader of a Russian mercenary outfit known as the Wagner Group is seen promising convicts release from prison in return for a six-month combat tour in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The man in the footage appears to be Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessperson and close associate of President Vladimir Putin who is rarely seen in public, much less touting his connections to the group so explicitly.

"I’m a representative of a private military company — you have probably heard of it, it is called Wagner,” the man tells a large group of prisoners standing before him in black uniforms. That admission is notable because Prigozhin has repeatedly denied any link to Wagner and even sued a Britain-based investigative journalist for suggesting otherwise.