Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the unruly head of the Wagner mercenary group, seems to have resurfaced in Belarus to ship a welcome speech to his fighters who had been deployed there as a part of a deal that ended his temporary mutiny final month, in response to a video printed on Wednesday by at the very least three Telegram channels related to the group.
Within the video, filmed at nightfall, a person whose silhouette and voice intently resemble Mr. Prigozhin mentioned that the Wagner fighters will keep in Belarus for a while to coach its military, with the aim of turning it into the perfect military on the earth exterior of Russia.
Within the aftermath of the aborted mutiny, the destiny of the Wagner group gave the impression to be in limbo. Final week, President Vladimir V. Putin said that its troops might proceed preventing however with out their pugnacious chief.
On the video, nonetheless, Mr. Prigozhin seems to nonetheless be the pinnacle of a big group of fighters. He didn’t tone down his criticism of the Russian prime commanders, calling the scenario on the entrance traces in Ukraine a “shame” that Wagner fighters “shouldn’t take part in.” He additionally left open the likelihood Wagner forces would return to fight in Ukraine.
“We have to await the second after we can show ourselves totally,” the determine believed to be Prigozhin says on the video, his face by no means totally proven. “Maybe we are going to return to the particular navy operation, until we’re compelled to disgrace ourselves and our expertise.”
The Occasions verified that the video was filmed at a Wagner camp within the village of Tsel’ close to the city of Asipovichy, about 50 miles southeast of the Belarusian capital Minsk. It was filmed on Tuesday night.
To confirm the movies, the Occasions in contrast options seen in them — two massive buildings and uniquely coloured tents — to the identical options that seem in satellite tv for pc imagery captured on Wednesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Belarusian monitoring group Hajun Project tracked a jet beforehand related to Mr. Prigozhin till it landed at a navy airfield south of the capital, Minsk.
Early on Wednesday, after the video on the camp was filmed, the identical plane was tracked leaving Belarus and flying towards Moscow. The Occasions previously reported that columns of Wagner Group automobiles arrived on the camp on Monday.
Within the video, the person intently resembling Mr. Prigozhin is seen talking in entrance of tons of of fighters who clapped and whistled. After ending, he turns the ground over to Dmitri Utkin, the mercenary whose nom de guerre, Wagner, gave the group its title. “This isn’t the tip,” Mr. Utkin says. “That is the start of the most important process on the earth.”
Final week, the Belarusian Ministry of Protection said that Wagner fighters had been coaching its navy in protection and battlefield ways, and state tv reported the mercenaries had already begun instructing common troops close to Asipovichy. The report couldn’t be independently confirmed.
Since Mr. Prigozhin abruptly halted his mutiny on June 24, the Kremlin has publicly labored to to decrease Mr. Prigozhin’s function in Russian politics and downplay his half within the warfare effort. His media empire, together with a number of information web sites, has been shut down. Russian state tv has portrayed him as a petty and immoral thug hoarding money, weapons, passports, and probably medicine.