The mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin arrived in Belarus yesterday, according to Belarusian state media, ending days of speculation over his whereabouts after he called off a weekend uprising that marked a dramatic challenge to the rule of President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
New details emerged about the negotiations that ended the daylong rebellion, as Aleksandr Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, described his phone conversations with Putin and Prigozhin on Saturday. After Putin raised the possibility of killing Prigozhin, Lukashenko said he had urged against a rushed response, saying that “a bad peace is better than any war.”
In public appearances, Putin praised his security forces, portraying the rebellion as a heroic episode for the Russian state and thanking the military for having “essentially stopped a civil war,” state media reported. He also vaguely warned of consequences for officials who helped Prigozhin enrich himself at Russia’s expense.
Who is Prigozhin? He is the mercurial freelance warlord who made a last-ditch attempt to win by force in one of the most extraordinary Russian power struggles in recent memory.
Revelations: The former top Russian commander in Ukraine had advance knowledge of Prigozhin’s plans to rebel against Russia’s military leadership, according to U.S. officials who said they were trying to learn if he helped plan the actions last weekend.
Meanwhile, the Russian authorities have dropped an investigation into Prigozhin and members of his Wagner group over the armed rebellion. It is still unclear how much Wagner equipment would be relinquished or how many of its fighters — whose numbers Prigozhin recently put at 25,000 — would agree to be placed under the Russian Army’s command.
(New York Times)