June 25, 2023

Yevgeny Prigozhin leaves Russia for Belarus to end insurrection

Breaking: Wagner chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in Russian plane crash

Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin speaks inside the headquarters of the Russian southern army military command center, which is taken under control of Wagner PMC, according to him, in the city of Rostov-on-Don, Russia in this still image taken from a video released June 24, 2023. Press service of “Concord”/Handout via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ally Yevgeny Prigozhin who made an attempt to subvert him on Saturday has agreed to leave Russia for Belarus.

Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner paramilitary group, made the agreement in a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that ended an armed insurrection, which marked the gravest threat to Putin’s authority in decades, CNN said.

In a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said an agreement was reached with Prigozhin.

“You will ask me what will happen to Prigozhin personally?” Peskov said. “The criminal case will be dropped against him. He himself will go to Belarus.” Peskov added that the Kremlin was unaware of the mercenary’s current whereabouts.

The Wagner boss had earlier turned his troops around “toward our field camps, in accordance with the plan.” Peskov said those troops would face no “legal action” for marching to Moscow, and Wagner fighters will sign contracts with Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

The announcement defuses a crisis that began when Wagner troops took control of a key military facility in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and some fighters advanced towards the capital.

Prigozhin has been publicly critical of Russia’s military leadership and their handling of the war in Ukraine – with few consequences. But he crossed numerous red lines with Putin over the weekend.