Vladimir Putin slams ‘treason’ from Wagner mercenary group
The whereabouts of Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin remain a mystery – nearly a month after he led his mercenary fighters in a botched mutiny. Now there are five chilling clues he is either dead or in jail.
On June 24, Prigozhin saw his Wagner Group seize control of the city of Rostov-on-Don in Russia. He then ordered them towards Moscow but suddenly stood them down after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko struck a truce between the Wagner chief and the Kremlin.
This would have seen Prigozhin escape charges of treason if he agreed to go into exile in Belarus. But earlier this month, Lukashenko claimed Prigozhin had returned to Russia.
The mystery surrounding Prigozhin’s whereabouts has deepened after a picture began circulating showing him in his underwear in a military tent – but it isn’t clear where or when it was taken.
Some reports have speculated it was taken on June 12 – nearly two weeks before the failed coup – while others have suggested it was taken after the botched mutiny at a base in Osipovichi in Belarus.
READ MORE: Wagner’s next move plotted as group could smash Europe with hybrid warfare
1. Former US general believes he is dead or in prison
Retired Gen. Robert Abrams, who had once served as the Commander of US Forces – Korea, shared his thoughts on the alleged meeting between Prigozhin and Putin – that reportedly took place five days the aborted rebellion.
The ABC News contributor told the TV network: “I think he’ll either be put in hiding or sent to prison or dealt with some other way, but I doubt we’ll ever see him again.”
Retired Gen. Robert Abrams was then asked if he believed Prigozhin was still alive, to which he replied: “I personally don’t think he is, and if he is, he’s in a prison somewhere.”
2. Vladimir Putin insists Wagner Group ‘does not exist’
On Friday, Vladimir Putin made surprise comments in the media when he claimed the Wagner Group of mercenary fighters “does not exist”.
He told Russian newspaper Kommersant: “There is no law on private military organizations. It just doesn’t exist.”
The astonishing comments sparked rumors Putin was cryptically hinting at the death of Prigozhin, the Wagner Group’s leader.
Keir Giles, a Russian security expert from Chatham House, told The Sun: “He wants to return to the fiction that Wagner does not belong to the Russian state, stepping back into the Russian comfort zone that black is white and white is black.”
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3. Putin and Prigozhin meeting after failed mutiny may never have happened
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed the Russian president held talks with the Wagner Group boss and his commanders on June 29.
He told reporters earlier last week Putin had invited a total of 35 people to that meeting and that it had lasted for three hours.
The Kremlin mouthpiece claimed the Russian president provided his “assessment” of the Wagner Group’s actions during the war in Ukraine, and also “of the events of June 24” – the day of the botched mutiny.
However, no pictures from the alleged meeting. General Adams said: “I’d be surprised if we actually see proof of life that Putin met with Prigozhin, and I think it’s highly staged. And my personal assessment is that I doubt we’ll see Prigozhin ever again publicly.”
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4. Prigozhin ‘sick with cancer’ and had undergone ‘years of intensive therapy’
Kremlin insiders have reportedly claimed the Wagner Group leader’s cancer diagnosis may have triggered his decision to launch his “march of justice”, with sources suggesting he underwent “years of intensive therapy” for stomach cancer before entering remission.
When the FSB raided Prigozhin’s mansion in St Petersburg earlier this month, it was reported they came across documents linked to his treatment for cancer.
Medical equipment was also reportedly discovered, intensifying speculation he was receiving treatment for a serious illness at home.
5. Two top generals linked to Prigozhin have mysteriously disappeared
General Sergey Surovikin, who is also known as General Armageddon, has not been since June 24 – the day of the failed coup – amid reports he knew about Prigozhin’s attempted mutiny masterplan.
There have been rumours swirling the former commander of Russia’s forces in Ukraine could be dead.
But not long after his alleged disappearance, he released a bizarre video urging the Wagner Group mercenaries to end their rebellion.
Valery Gerasimov, the Russian army general serving as the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and First Deputy Minister of Defence, has also mysteriously vanished from public view.
He seemingly disappeared at some point during the aftermath of Wagner’s attempted rebellion, although recently he was reportedly seen at a military command HQ.
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