Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy Russian businessman and owner of the private army of prison recruits and other mercenaries involved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sparked an armed rebellion against the Russian government last week.
Prigozhin’s rebellion came to an end through a deal that was struck, bringing a swift end to the short-lived mutiny in Russia. Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, has confirmed that Prigozhin and a group of his troops have recently arrived in Belarus and will be allowed to stay there temporarily to cover their expenses.
Since Saturday, Prigozhin has maintained a low public profile, aside from a brief appearance where he waved to supporters from a vehicle in the southern city of Rostov. However, he released a bold audio statement on Monday. On Tuesday morning, a private jet, reportedly owned by Prigozhin, left Rostov and arrived at a military airbase close to Minsk, the Belarusian capital.
President Putin referred to the rebellion as an ‘armed mutiny’ and stressed the importance of unity to prevent external forces from exploiting internal divisions. The Russian security agency, the FSB, labeled it an ‘armed rebellion’ and swiftly closed down the headquarters of the Wagner Group in St. Petersburg. As per President Putin’s statement, ”Those who staged the mutiny and took up arms against their comrades – they have betrayed Russia and will be brought to account. I urge those who are being dragged into this crime not to make a fatal and tragic mistake but make the only right choice: to stop taking part in criminal actions”.
President Putin made a pledge to reinstate stability and ensure that those accountable for the uprising are held responsible. Notably, he refrained from explicitly mentioning Prigozhin’s name, suggesting that the emphasis lies on addressing the matter itself rather than focusing on the individual behind it.
The tensions between the Wagner Group and the Russian government stem from their strained relationship with the Ministry of Defense. Prigozhin’s arrogance, political ambitions, and various business interests have also contributed to the chaotic situation.
With a minimum net worth of $1.2 billion, Prigozhin has garnered the interest of intelligence agencies from Western nations. He has organized a private army of mercenaries that Russia has deployed to strategic locations. Dealing with Prigozhin has become even more challenging due to concerns about loyalty and susceptibility to external influence.
During this critical time in Russia’s history, Putin has stressed that the top priorities are stability and unity. The determination and loyalty of the Russian people to their country will ensure that any external attempts to overthrow the government or support an insurrection led by a wealthy businessman will fail.