Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, has made a public appearance after a significant period of absence. This comes after he initiated a brief rebellion against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin shared an 11-minute voice recording on social media, marking his return to the public sphere.
In the recording, Prigozhin clarified that the march towards Moscow was intended as a demonstration against the handling of the war in Ukraine, rather than an attempt to overthrow the Russian regime. This information is based on a translation provided by Reuters.
“We started our march due to injustice. We showed no aggression, but we were hit by missiles and helicopters. This was the trigger,” the warlord said in the recording.
“We showed a master-class on how Feb. 24, 2022 had to look. We turned around to avoid spilling the blood of Russian soldiers. We regret that we had to hit Russian aviation,” he added.
Prigozhin caused global astonishment over the weekend when he turned his private military group against Russian forces, seizing control of Russian military bases and initiating a march. However, he eventually relented on Saturday after negotiations mediated by Belarus.
According to the Kremlin, a deal was reached where the leader of the mercenaries would relocate to Belarus, and both he and his soldiers would receive amnesty.
This mutiny marked the most significant challenge to Putin’s authority in over two decades.
Prigozhin’s recent statement does not provide any hints regarding his current whereabouts, and it remains unclear whether he has traveled to Belarus.
Prior to the rebellion, Prigozhin had been openly criticizing Russian military leaders, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, using profanity-laden insults for several months. He accused them of allegedly failing to supply his troops with sufficient ammunition during the battle for Bakhmut.