Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Due to Prigozhin's relocation to Belarus, Russia will not bring mutiny charges against him

 Yevgeny Prigozhin arrived in Belarus on Tuesday after escaping prosecution for his failed armed rebellion against the Kremlin and owning the private army of prison recruits and other mercenaries that fought some of the bloodiest battles in Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The exile of the 62-year-old proprietor of the Wagner Gathering was essential for an arrangement that finished the brief rebellion in Russia. Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, stated that Prigozhin was indeed in the country and that he and some of his troops were welcome to remain "for some time" at their own expense.

Prigozhin has not been seen since Saturday, when he waved to well-wishers from a vehicle in the southern city of Rostov. On Monday, he made a defiant audio statement. According to information gathered by FlightRadar24, on Tuesday morning, a private aircraft that is believed to belong to him took off from Rostov and made its way to an air base southwest of Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

According to Prigozhin, Wagner's 25,000 troops were preparing to hand over their heavy weapons to Russia's military, according to Moscow. Prigozhin had stated that such actions were being taken in advance of a July 1 deadline for his fighters to sign contracts with Russia's military command, which he opposed.

Also on Tuesday, Russian authorities said that they have closed a criminal investigation into the uprising and are not charging Prigozhin or his followers with armed rebellion.

Despite this, it appeared that Russian President Vladimir Putin had set the stage for financial misconduct charges to be brought against an affiliated company that Prigozhin owns. Putin told a military gathering that Wagner had received over 86 billion rubles (over $1 billion) in the past year for wages and additional items, and that Prigozhin's Concord Group had earned 80 billion rubles ($941 million) from a contract to provide the military with food.

Putin said, "I hope that while doing so they didn't steal anything, or not so much," and that authorities would examine Concord's contract closely.

Prigozhin has had lucrative catering contracts with the Russian government for a number of years. According to media reports, the Wagner boss confirmed that police who searched his St. Petersburg office on Saturday discovered 4 billion rubles, or $48 million, in trucks outside. He stated that the money would be used to pay the families of soldiers.

Prigozhin and his supporters put an end to the revolt on Saturday, less than 24 hours after it started. Shortly after that, Putin, who did not name the rebel leaders, spoke on national television and called them traitors.

Up to 20 years in prison could have been imposed for mounting an armed mutiny. Contrast Moscow's treatment of its critics, including those who stage anti-government protests in Russia, where many opposition figures have been punished with lengthy sentences in notoriously harsh penal colonies, with Prigozhin's escape from prosecution.

Lukashenko expressed a portion of the Wagner warriors are presently in the Luhansk locale in eastern Ukraine that Russia unlawfully added last September.

During the 16-month-old war in Ukraine, the most significant threat to Putin's power has been posed by a series of stunning events in recent days. On Tuesday, he once more acknowledged the threat, stating that the outcome could have been a civil war.

In addresses this week, Putin has tried to project stabilit y and show authority.

Tuesday, during a Kremlin ceremony, the president thanked soldiers and law enforcement for their efforts to prevent a rebellion as he walked down the red carpeted stairs of the white-stone Palace of Facets, built in the 15th century.

In a further demonstration of the same old thing, Russian media showed Protection Secretary Shoigu, in his tactical uniform, welcoming Cuba's meeting guard serve in a grandeur weighty function. Prigozhin has stated that his objective was not to carry out a coup against Putin but rather to expel Shoigu and other military leaders.

Lukashenko, who has governed Belarus with an iron hand for a very long time while depending on Russian endowments and backing, depicted the uprising as the most recent improvement in the conflict among Prigozhin and Shoigu. He claimed that while the mutiny was taking place, he put Belarus's armed forces on a combat footing and urged Putin not to respond too quickly lest the conflict get out of hand.

He claimed to have warned Prigozhin that the Kremlin would never grant his demands and warned him that he would be "squashed like a bug" if he attempted to attack Moscow.

"If Russia collapses, we all will perish under the debris," the Belarusian leader stated, referring to the conflict in Ukraine as an existential threat, similar to Putin.

Kremlin representative Dmitry Peskov wouldn't uncover insights concerning the Kremlin's arrangement with Prigozhin, saying just that Putin had given "certain certifications" pointed toward staying away from a "assuming the worst."

Viktor Zolotov, chief of the National Guard, explained to reporters, "We concentrated our forces in one fist closer to Moscow," when asked why the rebels were permitted to reach as close to Moscow as 200 kilometers (125 miles) without encountering significant resistance. They would have come out like butter when we thinly spread them."

Zolotov, a former bodyguard for Putin, also stated that the National Guard would soon acquire battle tanks and other heavy weapons.

According to Russian news reports, the mercenaries killed at least a dozen Russian airmen when they advanced on Moscow and shot down at least six Russian helicopters and a military communications plane. The Protection Service didn't deliver data about losses, however Putin referenced them Tuesday and regarded them with a snapshot of quietness.

"Pilots, our battle companions, passed on while standing up to the rebellion," he said. " They didn't falter and satisfied the orders and their tactical obligation with nobility."

The fact that Prigozhin and his troops will not be punished for the deaths of the airmen has sparked outrage among some Russian war bloggers and patriotic activists.

Prigozhin voiced lament for the passings in his explanation Monday, however said Wagner troops terminated on the grounds that the airplane were bombarding them.

In his broadcast address Monday night, Putin said resistance coordinators had given way to the schemes of Ukraine's administration and its partners. He lauded the typical double-crossers, in any case, who "didn't participate in fratricidal carnage and halted on the edge."

That was "likely in an effort to retain" the Wagner fighters in Ukraine, where Moscow needs "trained and effective manpower" to face a Ukrainian counteroffensive, according to a think tank in Washington.

Additionally, the Institute for the Study of War stated that providing the Wagner chief and his loyalists with Belarus as an apparent safe haven could be a trap because the break between Putin and Prigozhin is likely beyond repair.

The fighters of Prigozhin have been given the option of joining the Russian military, leaving the service, or moving to Belarus by Putin.

Lukashenko said there is not a great explanation to fear Wagner's presence in his nation, however in Russia, Wagner-selected convicts have been associated with brutal wrongdoings. He stated that the Wagner troops have "priceless" military expertise and knowledge Belarus can benefit from.

Wagner troops, according to exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, will pose a threat to the nation and its neighbors in the 2020 election, which was widely regarded as fraudulent and sparked widespread protests.

She stated to The Associated Press, "War criminal Prigozhin is not welcomed by Belarusians." A new threat to our sovereignty and our neighbors will arise if Wagner establishes military bases on our land."

While consideration zeroed in on the repercussions of the Russian disobedience, the conflict in Ukraine kept on causing significant damage in what US Envoy to Ukraine Bridget Edge called "horrendous scenes from another merciless assault."

According to reports from authorities, Russian missiles struck Kramatorsk and a nearby village in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine, killing three people, including a child, injuring more than two dozen others, and burying still more under the rubble of buildings.

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