Saturday, May 25, 2024

How Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin spent the mysterious 2 months between his failed coup and his plane crash — from strange meetings with Putin to sitting in a tent in his underwear

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A screen grab captured from a video shared online shows Yevgeny Prigozhin speaking in a desert area while wearing camouflage in a video for the first time after his rebellion in an unspecified location, possibly in Africa, on August 21, 2023.

Wagner Account/Anadolu/Getty Images

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was “exiled” to Belarus after staging a short-lived mutiny in Russia.
But his whereabouts over the following two months remained murky, and he may have remained in Russia.
Here’s what we know about what he was up to before Russian officials say he was killed in a plane crash.

Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed as a passenger on a private jet that crashed in Russia on Wednesday, two months after he led a short-lived armed rebellion against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s defense ministry.

Russia’s civil aviation agency said Prigozhin was on board the plane and among the 10 people who were killed.

“He seems to have spent the last two months fighting for his life, as it were,” said Simon Miles, an assistant professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and a historian of the Soviet Union and US-Soviet relations. 

The Wagner mutiny launched in late June after Prigozhin posted tirades to Telegram blasting Russian defense officials and publicly accusing them of lying about the war in Ukraine. Prigozhin led his mercenary troops on a march toward Moscow, even shooting down Russian aircraft, before abruptly standing down.

Afterward, experts and Western intelligence officials speculated that Putin might have Prigozhin, his former ally, assassinated. Prigozhin, for his part, went largely silent after the coup and was rarely seen publicly, so there is not a clear picture of where he was or what he was doing leading up to the crash.

Here’s everything we know.

June 24: Exiled

After Prigozhin turned back his troops that were marching on Moscow on June 24, Putin accused him of treason and a warrant was issued for his arrest for inciting an armed rebellion. The Kremlin then struck a deal with Prigozhin, who agreed to exile in Belarus, an ally of Russia, in exchange for not being prosecuted.

June 27: Prigozhin is said to have arrived in Belarus

A private jet linked to Prigozhin took off from Moscow and landed in Belarus on June 27, according to flight tracking data, Fox News reported. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who said he talked Putin out of assassinating Prigozhin, said that the Wagner boss had arrived in the country.

US officials would later say that Prigozhin may not have actually left Russia and that he may have even used a body double to make it appear as though he had fled to Belarus.

June 29: Face-to-face with Putin

Five days after the rebellion and two days after Prigozhin supposedly arrived in Belarus for exile, he was in Moscow for a three-hour meeting with Putin, the Russian news agency TASS reported in July. Prigozhin and other Wagner commanders pledged their loyalty to Putin during the meeting, a Kremlin spokesperson said.

July 4-6: Back in Russia after raid on St. Petersburg home

The Russian media outlet Fontanka reported Prigozhin arrived in St. Petersburg on July 4. Shortly after, photos were released that Russian media said were taken during a police raid on Prigozhin’s property in the city. Russia’s security service said it found weapons, gold bars, and wigs during the search.

On July 6, Lukashenko confirmed Prigozhin and his Wagner troops were in Russia, raising more questions about his supposed exile to Belarus.

This was when an unnamed Pentagon official told The New York Times it appeared Prigozhin had mostly been in Russia, in Moscow or St. Petersburg, since the rebellion.

July 14: An image of Prigozhin surfaces, potentially providing answers on his whereabouts

In mid-July, an image that surfaced on social media showed Prigozhin sitting on a cot in a tent in his underwear. Insider’s Jake Epstein reported the image suggested Prigozhin was at a military camp in Belarus where his Wagner fighters were training Belarusian troops.

July 27: Prigozhin attended an international summit in Russia

Photos emerged in late July that showed Prigozhin at a Russia-Africa summit that was hosted by Putin in St. Petersburg. The photos showe Prigozhin, in a white polo and blue jeans, shaking hands with Freddy Mapouka, a presidential advisor in the Central African Republic.

August 21: Prigozhin resurfaces in video

Prigozhin posted his first Wagner recruitment video since the mutiny, the Associated Press reported, citing Russian social media channels associated with Prigozhin. In the video, a man who appears to be Prigozhin says Wagner is “hiring real strongmen and continuing to fulfill the tasks which were set and which we promised to handle.” 

He said Wagner was focused on “making Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa even more free.”

August 24: Prigozhin was on a private jet that crashed in Russia

Almost two months to the day since his armed rebellion, Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash, according to Russian officials.

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A screen grab captured from a video shared online shows Yevgeny Prigozhin speaking in a desert area while wearing camouflage in a video for the first time after his rebellion in an unspecified location, possibly in Africa, on August 21, 2023.

Wagner Account/Anadolu/Getty Images

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was “exiled” to Belarus after staging a short-lived mutiny in Russia.
But his whereabouts over the following two months remained murky, and he may have remained in Russia.
Here’s what we know about what he was up to before Russian officials say he was killed in a plane crash.

Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed as a passenger on a private jet that crashed in Russia on Wednesday, two months after he led a short-lived armed rebellion against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s defense ministry.

Russia’s civil aviation agency said Prigozhin was on board the plane and among the 10 people who were killed.

“He seems to have spent the last two months fighting for his life, as it were,” said Simon Miles, an assistant professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and a historian of the Soviet Union and US-Soviet relations. 

The Wagner mutiny launched in late June after Prigozhin posted tirades to Telegram blasting Russian defense officials and publicly accusing them of lying about the war in Ukraine. Prigozhin led his mercenary troops on a march toward Moscow, even shooting down Russian aircraft, before abruptly standing down.

Afterward, experts and Western intelligence officials speculated that Putin might have Prigozhin, his former ally, assassinated. Prigozhin, for his part, went largely silent after the coup and was rarely seen publicly, so there is not a clear picture of where he was or what he was doing leading up to the crash.

Here’s everything we know.

June 24: Exiled

After Prigozhin turned back his troops that were marching on Moscow on June 24, Putin accused him of treason and a warrant was issued for his arrest for inciting an armed rebellion. The Kremlin then struck a deal with Prigozhin, who agreed to exile in Belarus, an ally of Russia, in exchange for not being prosecuted.

June 27: Prigozhin is said to have arrived in Belarus

A private jet linked to Prigozhin took off from Moscow and landed in Belarus on June 27, according to flight tracking data, Fox News reported. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who said he talked Putin out of assassinating Prigozhin, said that the Wagner boss had arrived in the country.

US officials would later say that Prigozhin may not have actually left Russia and that he may have even used a body double to make it appear as though he had fled to Belarus.

June 29: Face-to-face with Putin

Five days after the rebellion and two days after Prigozhin supposedly arrived in Belarus for exile, he was in Moscow for a three-hour meeting with Putin, the Russian news agency TASS reported in July. Prigozhin and other Wagner commanders pledged their loyalty to Putin during the meeting, a Kremlin spokesperson said.

July 4-6: Back in Russia after raid on St. Petersburg home

The Russian media outlet Fontanka reported Prigozhin arrived in St. Petersburg on July 4. Shortly after, photos were released that Russian media said were taken during a police raid on Prigozhin’s property in the city. Russia’s security service said it found weapons, gold bars, and wigs during the search.

On July 6, Lukashenko confirmed Prigozhin and his Wagner troops were in Russia, raising more questions about his supposed exile to Belarus.

This was when an unnamed Pentagon official told The New York Times it appeared Prigozhin had mostly been in Russia, in Moscow or St. Petersburg, since the rebellion.

July 14: An image of Prigozhin surfaces, potentially providing answers on his whereabouts

In mid-July, an image that surfaced on social media showed Prigozhin sitting on a cot in a tent in his underwear. Insider’s Jake Epstein reported the image suggested Prigozhin was at a military camp in Belarus where his Wagner fighters were training Belarusian troops.

July 27: Prigozhin attended an international summit in Russia

Photos emerged in late July that showed Prigozhin at a Russia-Africa summit that was hosted by Putin in St. Petersburg. The photos showe Prigozhin, in a white polo and blue jeans, shaking hands with Freddy Mapouka, a presidential advisor in the Central African Republic.

August 21: Prigozhin resurfaces in video

Prigozhin posted his first Wagner recruitment video since the mutiny, the Associated Press reported, citing Russian social media channels associated with Prigozhin. In the video, a man who appears to be Prigozhin says Wagner is “hiring real strongmen and continuing to fulfill the tasks which were set and which we promised to handle.” 

He said Wagner was focused on “making Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa even more free.”

August 24: Prigozhin was on a private jet that crashed in Russia

Almost two months to the day since his armed rebellion, Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash, according to Russian officials.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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