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Wagner boss Prigozhin, the warlord who railed against the Russian army and led a botched mutiny, has all but disappeared

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in 2017.SERGEI ILNITSKY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

  • Yevgeny Prigozhin has retreated into the shadows since his failed uprising against Russian military leaders.

  • He has not been seen in public since July 4, when he was spotted in St. Petersburg.

  • The Kremlin said Prigozhin and Putin met on June 29 and Prigozhin pledged his loyalty to the Russian leader.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the outspoken leader of the Wagner mercenary group that led a mutiny against Russian leaders last month, has all but disappeared from the public eye as the Kremlin tries to contain the damage of its armed insurrection.

On Monday, the Kremlin announced that the rebel leader, whom Russian President Vladimir Putin had said killed, had met with him five days after the failed uprising. This is a timeline of Prigozhin’s reported whereabouts:

24th of June: Prigozhin publicly recalled his troops who marched on Moscow as part of an armed uprising against top Russian officials.

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June 26: Prigozhin posted an audio message saying that the “purpose of the march was to prevent the destruction of PMC Wagner and bring to justice those who, due to their unprofessional actions, made a large number of mistakes during the special military operation,” referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

June 27: A private jet linked to Prigozhin arrived in Belarus. Wagner’s leader was to be exiled to Belarus under the terms of a deal made by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to end the uprising.

June 29: According to the Kremlin, Prigozhin had a face-to-face meeting with Putin, which raised questions about whether Prigozhin went to Belarus at all. No photos or videos of the meeting between Putin and Prigozhin have been released. The Kremlin claims that Prigozhin pledged his loyalty to the Russian leader at their meeting, which took place days after Putin, without naming Prigozhin, said the “organisers of the uprising” betrayed “their country” and “their people”.

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3 July: Prigozhin released his latest audio message, saying that the so-called “March of Justice” was “aimed at fighting traitors and mobilizing our society. I am sure you will see our next victories at the front in the near future . Thanks guys!”

July 4: Prigozhin was seen arriving at the FSB state security building in his home city of St. Petersburg and recovered some of his weapons, according to independent Russian news outlet Fontanka.

6th of July: Prigozhin may have flown to Moscow sometime between July 4 and July 6. According to Flightradar24, the jet linked to Prigozhin flew from Moscow to St. Petersburg on July 6. Lukashenko confirmed that day that the Wagner boss was back in St. Petersburg, adding that the final agreement on the terms of Prigozhin’s exile had not yet been finalized.

According to Belarusian officials and Russian media reports, Prigozhin is still in Russia, but the Wagner boss has retreated into the shadows since his failed uprising. He has not posted any audio messages since July 3, and his social media accounts have stopped responding to press inquiries. A top Russian general, who was allegedly aware of the attempted coup by Prigozhin, was taken for questioning and his whereabouts remain unknown.

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Putin, in turn, faces a unique challenge where Prigozhin is concerned. The Russian leader — long accused of ordering the capture and murder of those he considered disloyal — shocked former US intelligence officials by allowing Prigozhin to live and remain in Russia.

“The thought that immediately comes to mind is that this is a sign of Putin’s weakness,” Glenn Carle, a former CIA spy stationed in Russia, told Insider last week amid Russia’s continued losses in the war in Ukraine. It indicates that “there are several factions that Putin needs to placate” and that Prigozhin “has supporters within the power structure that Putin cannot afford to cross”.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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