Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is in Russia while his troops remain at the camps where they stayed before the short-lived rebellion, the president of Belarus said Thursday.
After stating last week that Prigozhin was in Belarus, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told international reporters Thursday that the warlord was in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Wagner’s troops still were at their camps.
“As for Prigozhin, he’s in St. Petersburg,” Lukashenko told reporters. “He is not on the territory of Belarus.”
Lukashenko said he helped broker a deal for Prigozhin to end his mutiny on June 24 in exchange for amnesty and security guarantees for himself and his soldiers, and permission to move to Belarus.
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Russian outlet Fontanka reported that Prigozhin had returned to Russia to reclaim weapons confiscated by authorities during searches at residences following the end of the rebellion.
Prigozhin was also reportedly presented 10 billion rubles (more than $100 million USD) by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the very man he sought to oust with his mutiny, that law enforcement had found during a raid on one of his vehicles.
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Prigozhin also shuttered his media holdings, closing down media group The Patriot and its outlets People’s News and Economics Today, according to The Moscow Times.
The news comes after Prigozhin released an audio message earlier this week promising new “victories on the frontline” despite the Kremlin insisting that the rebels were banished to Belarus.
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“We need your support today more than ever. Thank you for that. I want you to understand that our ‘justice march’ was aimed at fighting traitors and mobilizing our society. I think we achieved a lot of that,” Prigozhin said in the message shared by the Wagner-affiliated GreyZone Telegram channel via The Associated Press.
Fox News Digital was not able to authenticate the audio.
The abortive rebellion was what many observers are calling the biggest threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his more than two decades in power – an attempt on Moscow that exposed the Kremlin’s weakness.
After marching his 25,000-strong mercenary forces to within 125 miles of Moscow, Prigozhin abruptly ended the operation and ordered his troops to return home before heading into exile in Belarus.
In the aftermath, reports claimed that Prigozhin had anticipated support from several military officers and regiments, but that no support materialized. A military purge reportedly followed, but Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the Department of Defense did not see anything that should raise an alarm.
“Right now, we continue to see some elements of the Wagner group in Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine. As it relates to Belarus, I don’t have any updates to provide on that front,” he said.
Fox News’ Peter Aitken and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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