Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has claimed that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, is not in Belarus, contrary to prior reports, but in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia. This statement comes after a failed armed mutiny led by Prigozhin against the Kremlin, which was seemingly defused by Lukashenko. The location and status of Prigozhin and his mercenaries have remained uncertain, further complicating Russia’s domestic political landscape.
- Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the Wagner mercenary group, launched a failed rebellion against the Kremlin, resulting in a purported deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, where Prigozhin and his fighters would leave Russia.
- Lukashenko, in a recent news conference, contradicted previous reports and claimed Prigozhin was not in Belarus but in St. Petersburg, Russia, and his mercenaries remained in “permanent camps” in Russian-controlled territory.
- Belarus’s role in the crisis has led to speculations and concerns about the implications of hosting members of the Wagner group within their borders, potentially impacting regional stability.
- Russian media coverage of Prigozhin has shifted from praising him as a war hero to discrediting him, showcasing his criminal past and privileged lifestyle, indicating a change in his standing with the Kremlin.
- Lukashenko has downplayed any suggestions of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s weakness post the uprising, stating Putin was “busy with his own issues” and wouldn’t harm Prigozhin.