Yevgueni Prigozhin, head of the Wagner paramilitary group, is in Russia, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said on Thursday. Belarus is the country where the mercenary moved to after the failed rebellion two weeks ago, which challenged the power of Vladimir Putin. At least that is what Lukashenko himself assured on 27 June. This Thursday he once again referred to the whereabouts of the mercenary leader. “As for Prigozhin, he is in St. Petersburg. Where is this morning? He may have gone to Moscow, or to another place, but he’s not on Belarusian territory,” the president said at a press conference in Minsk with foreign media, words that add to the uncertainty about everything concerning Prigozhin. The Kremlin, for its part, ignored the doubts that arose. “We do not monitor their movements. We don’t have the ability or the desire to do that,” government spokesman Dmitri Peskov said in statements compiled by Russia’s official news agencies.
Lukashenko also referred to the Wagner Group mercenaries who participated in the mutiny, who were also offered in the deal after they halted their march to Moscow to settle in Belarus. The Belarusian president has assured that these mercenaries will not attack Ukraine from his exile. “We have never attacked anyone. I have already said this more than once. We will not attack. And no one will attack our territory. The Wagner group, like the Belarusian army, will protect our interests,” he stressed.
The president confirmed that the transfer of Wagner units to Belarus has not yet been resolved, and that it will depend on the decisions of Russia and the mercenary company. His comments highlighted the huge uncertainties surrounding the terms and implementation of the deal that ended the uprising, which Putin said could plunge the country into civil war. The Belarusian president indicated that the fighters of the group are also “in their fields”, and not in Belarus. “Yes [el Gobierno ruso y el grupo Wagner] consider it necessary to deploy a number of Wagner fighters to Belarus for rest or training […]so I will apply my decision [de acogerlos]”, he added.
The night before Lukashenko’s Prigozhin announcement, Russian state television launched a scathing attack on the mercenary chief and said he was still under investigation over the failed rebellion, the Reuters agent reported. In the program 60 minutes of the Rossiya 1 channel, footage allegedly recorded during police raids on Prigozhin’s St. Petersburg office and one of his “palaces” was shown, according to Russian television. The presenter, Deputy Yevgeny Popov, called him a “traitor”, and the recording – commented by journalist Eduard Petrov – was exhibited as a sampling of the Wagnerian leader’s criminal past and his hypocrisy in denouncing corruption in the Russian armed forces. . . The images showed boxes full of rubles in his office and wads of dollars in a luxurious home, as well as a helicopter allegedly owned by him, weapons and a collection of wigs to disguise himself with. Also on display were a fully equipped medical treatment room, gold bars, and a collection of maces, the tool Prigozhin said should be used against traitors.
“No one was going to close this case. The investigation [de la rebelión de Wagner] takes its course,” Petrov said. “I believe that the creation of the image of Yevgeny Prigozhin as a hero of the people was the work of the media fed by him,” added the journalist. mercenary a large sum of cash was found, up to 600 million rubles (about six million euros).According to Prighozin, his paramilitary group operates only with cash, both for salaries and expenses.
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Petrov also criticized that he has different passports and threw: “Why did this person have such strange powers, as if he was the head of some criminal group?” As he spoke, photos of the businessman in a suit were released on Telegram, though Reuters was unable to verify their authenticity. “We need to get to the bottom of who he was on which side. [en el motín]. We have to punish and prosecute them,” he concluded.
The Wagner Rebellion took place on June 24, when this paramilitary group marched on Moscow under the orders of its leader, Prigozhin. The paramilitaries came to seize a Russian army headquarters in the city of Rostov-on-Don in southwestern Russia, and their armored column came to be within 300 kilometers of the capital. Prigozhin has assured that he does not want to overthrow the government, but rather prevent the dismantling of Wagner, a measure contemplated by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who intends to integrate the mercenaries into the regular army.
Barely 24 hours later, the crisis was defused thanks to a deal brokered by Lukashenko between President Putin and Prigozhin, but it has shaken power in Russia during the conflict with Ukraine. This agreement provided for the withdrawal of charges against Wagner’s boss, who could take refuge in Belarus. However, there is only a statement from Lukashenko confirming the arrival of such a transfer. The Wagner Group leader has not been seen in public since June 26 and has limited himself to broadcasting voice recordings on messenger channels, but Lukashenko assured that he had spoken to him on the phone on Wednesday. “We spoke to him on the phone and discussed some matters related to Wagner’s next actions,” he revealed.
According to the president, Prigozhin assured him that he will continue to work “for the good of Russia”. “What will happen to him next? Well, anything can happen in life, but if they think Putin is so evil and vengeful that they crush him somewhere… No, it won’t happen,” he remarked.