Prigozhin releases new video, claiming to be in Africa

August 22, 2023

Head of Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin has posted a new video in which he claims to be in Africa.

The clip was initially posted on Telegram on Monday. According to a translation by Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Prigozhin says he and his troops are “on duty,” and that Wagner PMC is conducting reconnaissance and search operations, “making Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa even freer.”

He does not specify in the 41-second clip from which of Africa’s 54 nations he is speaking. However, on Saturday, All Eyes on Wagner, an open-source research group, reported that a plane linked to Prighozin had landed in Bamako, the capital of Mali.

According to Russian social media channels, Prigozhin has been recruiting fighters to serve in Africa while he has also invited investors from Russia to send money through Russian House, a cultural center operating in Bamako that’s linked to Prigozhin.

In the new video, Prigozhin says that his group will “continue to fulfill the tasks that have been set and that we have made promises to fulfill.” 

Over the past few years, Wagner has deployed several thousand troops in at least five different African nations, where it has propped up local autocratic regimes—often at massive expense to the local population. In May, the United Nations reported that Wagner was behind the slaughter of hundreds in Mali during a five-day military operation in March 2022.

The latest video is the first from Prigozhin since July, when he posted a nighttime clip appearing to welcome his fighters to Belarus. It emerged a little less than a month after Wagner’s brief uprising against Russian military brass, which began on June 23 when Prigozhin marched his columns of mercenaries into the Russian city of Rostov near Ukraine’s front lines. Prigozhin had said his fighters “blockaded” the town “without firing a single shot.”

The uprising ended the next day, after a deal was struck by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, which stipulated 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.

Shortly after Prigozhin’s revolt, Moscow reassured its allies in Africa that thousands of Wagner group fighters deployed to the continent would not withdraw.

In the new video, Prigozhin says he and his group “bring justice and happiness to the African peoples, and make life a nightmare for al Qaeda and other criminals.”

PHOTO: Prigozin video posted on Telegram Monday

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