September 27, 2023

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the unruly head of the Wagner mercenary group, seems to have reappeared in Belarus to present a welcoming speech to his fighters who have been despatched there as a part of a deal that ended his short-lived insurgency final month, in line with a video posted on Wednesday by at the least three Telegram channels linked to the group.

Within the video, filmed at nightfall, a person whose silhouette and voice carefully resemble Mr. Prigozhin stated that Wagner fighters would keep in Belarus for some time to coach its military, with the objective of turning it into the perfect military on this planet exterior of Russia.

After the aborted mutiny, the destiny of the Wagner group was in limbo. President Vladimir Putin stated final week that his troops might proceed combating, however with out their militant chief.

Nevertheless, within the video, Mr. Prigozhin nonetheless appears to be like like the pinnacle of a giant militant group. He didn’t soften criticism of the Russian excessive command, calling the state of affairs on the entrance line in Ukraine a “disgrace” during which the “Wagnerites” “shouldn’t take part.” He additionally left open the chance that Wagner’s forces would return to fight in Ukraine.

“We have to look forward to the second once we can categorical ourselves to the fullest,” says the determine believed to be Prigozhin within the video, however his face was by no means absolutely proven. “Maybe we are going to return to the particular operation, except we’re compelled to disgrace ourselves and our expertise.”

The Occasions has confirmed that the video was filmed on the Wagner camp within the village of Tzel close to the city of Osipovichi, about 50 miles southeast of the Belarusian capital of Minsk. This was filmed on a Tuesday night.

To check the video, the Occasions in contrast the small print they noticed – two giant buildings and uniquely coloured tents – with the identical options that seem in satellite tv for pc photographs taken on Wednesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Belarusian monitoring group Venture Hajun tracked a airplane beforehand linked to Mr. Prigozhin till it landed at a navy airfield south of the capital, Minsk.

On Wednesday morning, after the video was filmed within the camp, it was tracked that the identical airplane was taking off from Belarus and flying in the direction of Moscow. The Occasions beforehand reported that convoys of Wagner Group automobiles arrived on the camp on Monday.

The video reveals a person who appears to be like very very like Mr. Prigozhin chatting with a whole lot of fighters who have been clapping and whistling. When he is performed, he arms over the ground to Dmitry Utkin, the mercenary whose pseudonym Wagner gave the group its identify. “This isn’t the top but,” says Mr. Utkin. “That is the start of the most important problem on this planet.”

Final week, the Belarusian Protection Ministry stated that Wagner fighters have been coaching their navy in protection and fight ways, and state tv reported that mercenaries had already begun coaching common troops close to Osipovichi. The message can’t be independently acknowledged.

Ever since Mr. Prigozhin abruptly ended his rise up on June 24, the Kremlin has publicly sought to downplay Mr. Prigozhin’s function in Russian politics and downplay his involvement within the hostilities. His media empire, together with a number of information websites, was shut down. Russian state tv portrays him as a petty and immoral bandit, hoarding cash, weapons, passports and presumably medicine.

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