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‘Wagner chief Prigozhin back in Russia’ after Belarus attempted coup exile

3 min read

Dramatic footage show Prigozhin Mansion raided

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed today that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the notorious Wagner Group mercenaries, is currently residing in St. Petersburg after leaving Belarus.

This comes after Lukashenko played a pivotal role in brokering a deal that quelled Prigozhin’s recent rebellion, granting him and his soldiers security guarantees and permission to relocate to Belarus.

The swift mutiny saw these mercenaries swiftly seize control of the key Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and even managed to capture military headquarters before embarking on a brazen march towards the heart of Moscow.

Prigozhin dubbed this audacious move a “march of justice” aimed at toppling the Russian defence minister and the Chief of the General Staff.

According to Prigozhin himself, his forces came perilously close to the Russian capital, halting their advance a mere 200 kilometres (124 miles) away, all thanks to the diplomatic intervention by Lukashenko.

Read more: Wagner troops poised to inflict ‘proxy war’ on targets across Europe

This dramatic turn of events marked the most significant challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reign in his lengthy twenty-year rule, ultimately exposing the vulnerabilities within the Kremlin’s power structure.

Lukashenko’s recent statement corroborates earlier reports from Russian media, which speculated that Prigozhin had been sighted in St. Petersburg.

However, Express.co.uk reported a week ago that the Wagner chief may had already returned to Russia and was in fact granted “political immunity”, raising suspicions that he was only in Belarus for a few hours at most in the last few weeks.

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This immunity, which if true, would have been given to him by the Kremlin and allowed him to remain in St Petersburg until July 1, the northwestern Russian city where the private military company headquarters is located.

Analysis of Prigozhin’s private jet’s movements last week, suggests that he was in Belarus for just 14 hours and 59 minutes, on June 27, during which time he may have met with Lukashenko in the President’s residence at Zaslauskaye reservoir, just outside Minsk, where the Belarusian dictator usually carries out “non-public negotiations”.

According to Fontanka, a St Petersburg news site, the Wagner chief had travelled back to Russia with his private jet to collect an arsenal of weapons.

A 4×4 vehicle was witnessed pulling up outside an investigator’s office in the heart of St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. Eyewitnesses reported seeing Prigozhin himself, accompanied by his aides, carrying weapons and swiftly loading them into the vehicle.

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