In midst of crisis in Russia, Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, leader of the mercenary Wagner Group, declares that Russian president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has made “the wrong choice… soon we will have a new president”. Hours later, a “plan” is announced
Soon after a “plan” is announced, an off-the-record deal between Putin and Prigozhin is referenced as Wagner chief Prigozhin ‘Telegrams’ he is turning his forces away from their route toward Moscow. Prigozhin disappears from public view. After several weeks incognito, he reappears in mid-July in Belarus. A new ‘training’ camp has been constructed for Wagner forces to reassemble…
Via press reports… On July 19, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is shown in a video welcoming his fighters to Belarus, telling them they would take no further part for now in the war in Ukraine but ordering them to gather strength for Wagner’s operations in Africa while they trained the Belarusian army.
June 24, 2023: Wagner’s Yevgeny Prigozhin has published a new audio recording claiming he is turning his forces around from a march toward Moscow.
“We turning our columns around and going back in the other direction toward our field camps, in accordance with the plan.”
The Telegram announcement was broadcast as Belarusian’s government claimed President Alexander Lukashenko had reached a deal with Prigozhin to halt his forces drive toward Moscow, several hundred miles from the forward columns on the highway roads.
A following statement was released:
“This morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin briefed his Belarusian counterpart on the situation in southern Russia with the private military company Wagner. The heads of state agreed on joint actions. As a follow-up to the agreements, the President of Belarus, having being additionally informed on the situation through his own channels, and in agreement with the President of Russia, held talks with the head of Wagner PMC Yevgeny Prigozhin. Yevgeny Prigozhin accepted the proposal of the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko to stop the movement of armed persons of the Wagner company on the territory of Russia and take further steps to de-escalate tensions.”
Putin calls armed rebellion by mercenary chief a betrayal and promises to defend Russia
President Putin responds with a speech to the Nation, morning of June 24, 2023:
Wagner chief responds to Putin: ‘The president is deeply mistaken’
Wagner Group boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin responded to President Vladimir Putin’s call for unity and cessation of what he called “an armed rebellion,” saying Wagner refuses to “go and confess” any guilt.
“Regarding the betrayal of the motherland, the president is deeply mistaken,” Prigozhin said in an audio message posted by his press service, referring to Putin’s remarks saying that Wagner betrayed Russia by staging hostilities inside the country.
(Full version of Prigozhin audio message posted to Telegram approximately noon Moscow time, Saturday, June 24)
Regarding the betrayal of the motherland, the president is deeply mistaken. We’re patriots of our motherland. We’ve fought and we’ll continue fighting. All Wagner Group fighters. And none of us is going to turn himself in at the demand of the president, the FSB, or anybody else. Because we don’t want the country to go on living in corruption, deception, and bureaucracy. When we fought in Africa, they told us we need Africa, and then they abandoned it, because they plundered all the money that was supposed to help. When they told us that we were fighting against Ukraine, we went and fought. But it turned out that the ammunition, the weapons, all the money that was allocated for them was also plundered. And the bureaucrats sit there, saving it for themselves, specifically for the day when this happens, when someone marches on Moscow. Now they’re not saving anything — they’re using planes and helicopters to bomb columns where there are civilians. And they’re bombing civilians because they can’t hit their targets. And they’re just hitting whatever they hit. So we’re the patriots, and those who are resisting us are the ones who have gathered around scoundrels.
Additional media-reported quotes of Yevgeniy Prigozhin (English translations):
“No one is going to turn themselves in at the request of the president, the FSB, or anyone else. No one wants to go on living in corruption and deceit… Who opposes us are those who have gathered around the scum.”
On Saturday morning (June 24), a video appeared on Telegram that appears to show “negotiations” between Yevgeny Prigozhin, Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, and Deputy Chief of Staff Vladimir Alexeyev at the Southern Military District’s headquarters in Rostov-on-Don. The previous evening, Prigozhin accused the Russian Defense Ministry of carrying out a missile attack on a Wagner Group camp and announced his units were setting out on a “march of justice” against Russia’s military leadership. Overnight, Wagner fighters cordoned off multiple military and administrative buildings in Rostov-on-Don. Meduza is publishing a transcript of the conversation between Prigozhin, Yevkurov, and Alexeyev heard in the video.