| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Wagner fighters preparing to move to Belarus, senior commander quoted as saying

 Mercenary fighters of Yevgeny Prigozhin‘s Wagner group are preparing to move to Belarus under the terms of a deal that defused their mutiny against Russia’s military leadership, a senior commander of the group was quoted as saying.

Since the June 23-24 mutiny, which saw Wagner fighters briefly seize a southern Russian city and march towards Moscow, the exact whereabouts of Prigozhin and his mercenaries have been unclear.

Under the deal that ended the mutiny, Prigozhin was meant to move to Belarus and his men – some of them ex-convicts freed early to fight in Ukraine – were given the option to move with him to Belarus, join Russia’s regular armed forces, or go home.

However, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that Prigozhin and thousands of his fighters were still in Russia, raising questions about the deal’s implementation.

Anton Yelizarov, whose nom de guerre is “Lotus”, was quoted on Saturday by a channel on the Telegram messaging app as saying the fighters were now taking vacation until early August, on Prigozhin’s orders, before moving to Belarus.

“We have to prepare bases, training grounds, coordinate with local governments and administrations, organize interaction with the law enforcement agencies of Belarus and establish logistics,” he was quoted by the “Yevgeny Prigozhin on Telegram” channel as saying.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the interview.

Prigozhin himself has gone uncharacteristically quiet over the past two weeks. He has not posted on his previously preferred Telegram channel – Yevgeny Prigozhin Press Service – since June 26, when he defended his fighters’ mutinous actions.

  • Reuters