Russian State Media says Prigozhin Still Faces Charges 

June 26, 2023

Russian mercenary Wagner group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin still faces charges for his armed rebellion, according to Ria Novosti, Russia’s main state news service.

That’s despite a deal struck by Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko that Prigozhin’s mercenaries would receive immunity, and that charges brought against Prigozhin himself by the Russian intelligence and security agency FSB would be dropped, after he turned his “columns” away from their march toward Moscow Saturday.

Ria Novosti citied a source in the Russian prosecutor-general’s office in saying that the charges had not been dropped. 

That report was backed up by Kommersant, a Russian business newspaper, which reported that the FSB was still investigating Prigozhin and said “not enough time has passed to take another decision.”

The brokered deal was reported to include a stipulation that Prigozhin leave Russia for neighboring Belarus. Prigozhin has not been seen or heard from since the Wagner chief claimed to have “blockaded” the Russian city of Rostov early Saturday morning. The mercenaries reportedly took the city without firing a shot.

On Monday, Russia released images of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspecting a Russian command point and listening to a report from subordinates about the war in Ukraine.

However, it has not been confirmed where or when the video was taken. A social media channel run by a former Russian Defense Ministry chairman claimed that it had been filmed in Belgorod prior to Prigozhin’s revolt.

It was a long-running feud between Prigozhin and Russia’s top military command that sparked Friday’s insurrection, and speculation has arisen that Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to remove Shoigu as part of the deal to end the Wagner forces’ march toward Moscow. 

The Shoigu video is a possible attempt to portray a sense that Russia—and its war in Ukraine—are back to business as usual following Prigozhin’s uprising. 

In an address on Saturday morning, before the reported deal was struck, Putin had threatened to punish anyone involved in “armed rebellion” and accused them of treason.

The two-day crisis “raises profound questions, it shows real cracks” in Putin’s authority, according to U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

“Prigozhin himself, in this entire incident, has raised profound questions about the very premises of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the first place, saying that Ukraine or NATO did not pose a threat to Russia, which is part of Putin’s narrative,” Blinken added as he made the talk show rounds on Sunday morning.

PHOTO: Press Service of Prigozhin, Telegram

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