Wagner Chief takes deal that drops charges, sends him to Belarus « Khabarhub

This video grab taken from handout footage on the Telegram account of the press service of Concord – a company linked to Russian mercenary Wagner group, shows Yevgeny Prigozhin speaking from Bakhmut/AFP

MOSCOW: Russia’s Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who turned his Wagner Group fighters against the military leadership in Moscow, will move to Belarus and the criminal charges against him for mounting an armed rebellion will be dropped, the Kremlin.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko negotiated the deal with the Wagner Group chief, his office said, with the approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Lukashenko said he has known Prigozhin personally for 20 years.

The negotiations also guaranteed that Wagner fighters will not be prosecuted, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “We have always respected their heroic deeds at the front,” he said, adding that Moscow was grateful to Lukashenko for his role in de-escalating the crisis.

Those fighters who did not participate in the rebellion, Peskov said, would be offered contracts with the Defense Ministry, which has been seeking to bring all autonomous volunteer forces under its control by July 1.

Asked if there would be any personnel changes in the Russian Defense Ministry as part of the deal, Peskov said “These matters are the sole prerogative and within the competence of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief (Putin) in accordance with the constitution of the Russian Federation. Therefore, it is unlikely that these topics could have been discussed in the course of the above-mentioned contacts.”

The Russian spokesman did not reveal whether there were any concessions made to persuade Prigozhin to withdraw all his forces, other than the guarantees for his safety — something he said Putin had given his word on — and for the safety of Prigozhin’s men.

He called the events that unraveled since Friday, “tragic.”

Earlier Saturday, Prigozhin and his fighters got within about 200 kilometers of Moscow before he ordered his men to halt their advance, turn their convoy around and return to their bases in Ukraine to avoid bloodshed.

In an audio message released by his press service, Prigozhin said: “They wanted to disband the Wagner military company. We embarked on a march of justice on June 23. In 24 hours, we got to within 200 kilometers of Moscow. In this time, we did not spill a single drop of our fighters’ blood.

“Now the moment has come when blood could be spilled. Understanding responsibility [for the chance] that Russian blood will be spilled on one side, we are turning our columns around and going back to field camps as planned,” he said in the audio message on his channel on the messaging app Telegram.

Prigozhin didn’t say whether the Kremlin has responded to his demand to oust Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu or what, if anything, Lukashenko had promised him in their negotiations.


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