What's Going on in Russia?
An update on Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner mystery
The information coming out about the recent armed mutiny in Russia keeps getting stranger. In the aftermath of the brief insurrection by the semi-private, paramilitary Wagner group, an amnesty deal was brokered by Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus. According to the deal, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary force, was supposedly exiled to Belarus along with those of his fighters who did not wish to sign up with the Russian Defense Ministry.
It all seemed to be over as quickly as it started and tied up in a neat package.
But recent reports are introducing a lot more questions. The story isn’t over—and it’s no longer a tidy one.
Prigozhin in Russia
In a stunning turn of events, Prigozhin’s exact whereabouts are unknown at the moment. His brief exile to Belarus appears to be over—if it ever happened in the first place. Last Friday, a headline in The New York Times read, “Prigozhin Is Said to Be in Russia, as Wagner Mystery Deepens.”
Here’s a snippet from the article:
The mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin is in Russia and is a “free man” despite staging a rebellion against Moscow’s military leadership, the leader of Belarus said on Thursday, deepening the mystery of where Mr. Prigozhin and his Wagner group stand and what will become of them. President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus told reporters that Mr. Prigozhin was in St. Petersburg, Russia, as of Thursday morning, and then “maybe he went to Moscow, maybe somewhere else, but he is not on the territory of Belarus. . . .
Some Russian news outlets reported that Mr. Prigozhin was in St. Petersburg on Wednesday or Thursday. A Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence, said that the Wagner leader had been in Russia for much of the time since the mutiny, but the official said it was not clear whether he had been in Belarus, in part because Mr. Prigozhin apparently uses body doubles to disguise his movements.
Having a body double sounds like something in a Mission Impossible movie or Tom Clancy novel. One wonders what is really happening.
Make no mistake: I think Putin could take out Prigozhin at any time. Putin would not allow Prigozhin to move about Russia freely if he still considered him a viable threat. Was the supposed mutiny and subsequent exile all one big ruse?
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