scorecardWagner leader Prigozhin will move to Belarus following the mercenary group's uprising against Putin, Kremlin spokesman says
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Wagner leader Prigozhin will move to Belarus following the mercenary group's uprising against Putin, Kremlin spokesman says

Michelle Mark   

Wagner leader Prigozhin will move to Belarus following the mercenary group's uprising against Putin, Kremlin spokesman says
LifeInternational2 min read
  • Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin will move to Belarus and won't be prosecuted, a Kremlin spokesman said.
  • Prigozhin and his mercenary group waged an uprising and marched across Russia on Saturday.

The Kremlin has forged a deal with Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin to defuse the mercenary group's uprising on Saturday.

In exchange for Prigozhin's exile to Belarus, the mercenary leader won't be prosecuted, the Associated Press reported, citing a Kremlin spokesperson.

The reported agreement comes after a paramilitary rebellion on Saturday in which the Wagner Group marched across Russia before suddenly turning around just 120 miles from Moscow. Prigozhin said he didn't want to shed Russian blood.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced Saturday that Prigozhin — and the troops who follow him — will not face criminal prosecution as part of the deal. He also said those troops who did not join in the uprising would be offered Defense Ministry contracts.

Saturday's rebellion marked the strongest threat to President Vladimir Putin's power in over 20 years. Prigozhin had dubbed his procession towards Moscow a "march for justice," and made baseless claims that Russia's defense minister had ordered an air strike on the Wagner Group on Friday and killed large numbers of troops. The Kremlin denied the allegation.

Earlier on Saturday, Prigozhin posted a voice note to his Telegram channel, calling his 25,000 troops "patriots" and defending their cause.

"We don't want the country to continue to live any longer in corruption, deceit, and bureaucracy," Prigozhin said, according to a Reuters translation.

Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko, a close Putin ally who has also long known Prigozhin, spent all day Saturday negotiating with Prigozhin, according to The New York Times. Prigozhin was once, himself, a close Putin ally, but tensions have grown high since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Prigozhin evenly openly criticized Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "racket" in a public statement last week, the Times reported. Though he didn't directly criticize Putin, he publicly refuted Russia's justification for the invasion.

"The war wasn't needed to return Russian citizens to our bosom, nor to demilitarize or denazify Ukraine," Prigozhin said. "The war was needed so that a bunch of animals could simply exult in glory."

The Wagner Group's rebellion first began Friday. By the next day, Putin had formally accused Prigozhin of treason and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Moscow had been bracing for violence, with residents fleeing, city officials warning people to stay home, and workers destroying highways leading into the city.

By Saturday, the Wagner Group had apparently gained control of military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don, a city 660 miles south of Moscow where Russia's operations in Ukraine are managed, according to the Associated Press. On Saturday, the mercenary group was reportedly also in Lipesk province, just 225 miles south of Moscow.




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