Russian general Sergei Surovikin is in Algeria as part of a Defence Ministry delegation, an apparent return to official duties after being investigated in connection with a mutiny by the Wagner mercenary force in June, according to Kommersant, citing a source close to the general.
Surovikin was photographed in Algeria, a big consumer of Russian armaments, wearing a khaki uniform with no military insignia, according to the newspaper.
Surovikin was called “General Armageddon” for his use of carpet bombing techniques during Russia’s engagement in Syria’s civil conflict last year before being demoted in January.
He gained popularity with Russian military establishment opponents, notably Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was assassinated.
As Wagner mercenaries marched on Moscow in late June, he appeared in a video looking distressed and holding an assault rifle on his lap, urging them to turn back.
The general, who was praised publicly by Prigozhin, disappeared from public view after the mutiny. The New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence believed he had known in advance about the revolt, the biggest challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s authority in his 24 years in power.
Various media outlets reported that Surovikin had fallen out of favour with the Kremlin and that he was being investigated for possible complicity. The state news agency RIA said last month that he had been removed as head of the air force and his deputy Viktor Afzalov had assumed the job on a temporary basis.
The Kremlin has refused to comment on his status.
Unconfirmed reports this month said Surovikin had been appointed head of the air defence committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which groups Russia and eight other former Soviet states.
Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said this would be “consistent with previous patterns of the Russian military leadership shifting disgraced and ineffective commanders to peripheral positions far removed from Ukraine without discharging them from the Russian military entirely”.