Lukashenko: Wagner Chief Is Back in Russia

He says no decision has been made on Wagner fighters moving to Belarus
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2023 6:44 AM CDT
Updated Jul 6, 2023 7:00 AM CDT
Lukashenko: Wagner Chief Is Back in Russia
In this handout image taken from a video released by Prigozhin Press Service on Friday, May 5, 2023, head of Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin speaks from an unknown location.   (Prigozhin Press Service via AP, File)

Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin reportedly went to Belarus last week as part of the deal to end the mercenary group's mutiny against Russian military leadership—and while some observers expected him to end up falling out of a tall building in Minsk, he is now back in Russia, according to Alexander Lukashenko. "As for Prigozhin, he's in St. Petersburg. He is not on the territory of Belarus," the Belarusian president told reporters Thursday, per the Guardian. "Where is Prigozhin this morning? Maybe he left for Moscow."

Prigozhin's private jet flew to Belarus last week and returned to Russia the same day. It's not clear whether he was on board during subsequent flights between St. Petersburg and Moscow, and the Kremlin says it isn't following his movements, the BBC reports. Lukashenko said Thursday that as far as he knows, Wagner fighters are still at their bases in Russia and occupied areas of Ukraine, though an offer for the group to station fighters in Belarus still stands. Lukashenko, who said last week that Prigozhin was in Belarus, said "the issue of their relocation has not been resolved," but he does not believe Wagner fighters will destabilize Belarus.

According to Russian media, Prigozhin is in St. Petersburg to wrap up some of his affairs in the city, including retrieving cash seized in raids on his home and Wagner offices in the city, the AP reports. On Wednesday, Russian state TV showed cash, gold bars, wigs, and other items found in what state TV described as Prigozhin's "palace," reports the BBC. After a week of silence, Prigozhin issued a short message on Monday. (More Yevgeny Prigozhin stories.)

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