Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday that Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was in St. Petersburg, Russia and his mercenaries were in the camps where they stayed before their two-day uprising.
In a Telegram post that was translated by Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Lukashenko responds to a question about the location of Wagner PMC and Prigozhin by saying, “This is a Russian company. So the question is obviously not for me. As far as I’m informed, his fighters are in their camps. Regarding Prigozhin, he is located in St. Petersburg. He is not on the territory of Belarus.”
On Thursday Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the Russian government didn’t know where Prigozhin was.
“We don’t follow his movements, we have neither the means nor the wish to do so,” Peskov said during a press briefing.
According to Russian media Prigozhin arrived in St. Petersburg July 4 and was given back all the weapons confiscated after a search of his property, including a Glock pistol that had been awarded to him by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu—who was specifically targeted by Prigozhin in his revolt.
On Wednesday Russian media showed video of an earlier search of Prigozhin’s property, revealing weapons, boxes of money (reportedly some 600 million rubles or more than $6.5 million), sledgehammers, a helicopter and a wardrobe with wigs.
The Wagner uprising began on Friday, June 23 when Prigozhin marched his columns of mercenaries into the Russian city of Rostov near Ukraine’s front lines. Prigozhin said his fighters “blockaded” the town “without firing a single shot.”
It ended the next day, after a deal was reportedly struck by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko that Prigozhin’s mercenaries would receive immunity, and that charges brought against Prigozhin himself would be dropped, once he turned his columns away from their subsequent march toward Moscow. Before turning back, some 8,000 of Prigozhin’s mercenaries had come within 125 kilometers of the capital city, according to British Intelligence.
Lukashenko did not specify to reporters where the Wagner camps were currently located, however, the mercenaries fought alongside regular Russian military forces in eastern Ukraine before their mutiny.
Earlier this week it had been reported that some 1,000 of Prigozhin’s mercenary forces—most of whom are convicts who were freed for the purpose of fighting with Wagner—had also left Russia for Belarus after the revolt, per an offer by Russian President Vladimir Putin to drop all charges against them if they were to move to Belarus, join the regular military through Russia’s Ministry of Defense or simply “go back to their homes.”
The failed rebellion represented the biggest threat to Putin’s authority in his more than two decades in power.