Vladimir Putin critic Yevgeny Prigozhin's current location remains unclear

Vladimir Putin’s ally-turned-rebel Yevgeny Prigozhin is allegedly back in Russia despite the Kremlin leader having exiled him to Belarus. Here’s what we know about his mysterious whereabouts.

Vladimir Putin critic Yevgeny Prigozhin's current location remains a mystery
© Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
Vladimir Putin critic Yevgeny Prigozhin's current location remains a mystery

Yevgeny Prigozhin became the first man who threatened Vladimir Putin’s absolute power, and it’s only ironic that he used to be the President’s protégé and closest ally.

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Two weeks ago Wagner Group troops seized the city of Rostov and headed to capture Moscow as a result of a bitter feud between Prigozhin, who is reportedly worth $1 billion, and the Russian Army top brass.

Although they aborted the rebellion within less than 24 hours, the situation gave a powerful blow to Vladimir Putin’s image.

The post-uprising compromise deal included Prigozhin’s exile to Belarus together with his 8,000-strong army of ‘serial killers’ troops - the situation that caused extreme security concerns in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania which share a border with the ‘Moscow’s puppet’ state.

But Vladimir Putin’s headache seems far from over as Belarus’s ‘dictator’ leader Alexander Lukashenko just admitted that Prigozhin was not in his country but back in Russia.

Moscow has just ransacked the warlord’s house in St Petersburg and continues to thrash him in the state-controlled media but his whereabouts remain a mystery.

Where is Yevgeny Prigozhin?

Wagner Group’s attempted uprising resulted in its chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s exile to Belarus. But since the Alexander Lukashenko-brokered and Vladimir Putin-approved deal was agreed and the warlord was seen leaving for his new home, his current whereabouts remain a mystery.

Last week Belarus’s leader confirmed that Prigozhin arrived in his country and that his troops were free to join him. He even revealed that they’d be given an old military base to train, and that, in case of emergency, they'd be expected to defend Belarus.

But Lukashenko has now backtracked from these statements.

He said at a press conference yesterday:

As for Prigozhin, he's in St Petersburg. He is not in the territory of Belarus.

BBC, who reported the news, clarified that it could not verify Lukashenko's claims that the Wagner chief is back in Russia.

Lukashenko added that, as per his knowledge, the rest of the Wagner fighters were still at their bases - which could include eastern Ukraine or Russia's Krasnodar region.

This is in line with what NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said just a few days ago citing the intel: only a few mercenaries crossed to Belarus and the absolute majority remained on Russian territory.

Alexander Lukashenko also revealed that Wagner Group, whose competence he praised, was still welcome to station some of its fighters in his country, although, 'at present, the issue of their relocation has not been resolved’.

According to the BBC that tracked Prigozhin's private jet, it flew to Belarus in late June and returned to Russia the same evening.

The plane has since made several flights between St Petersburg and Moscow. But it’s not clear who was on board.

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Prigozhin slammed on Russian state TV

Belarus’s leader said that Yevgeny Prigozhin was ‘absolutely free’ and that Vladimir Putin wasn’t planning to ‘wipe him out’.

But these claims were contradicted as this Wednesday Russian TV appeared to turn on the warlord, attacking the Wagner Group mutiny as a premeditated act of treachery.

Rossiya 1 channel released images from what looked like a raid on his home in St Petersburg.

Their clips included everything a hardened criminal could ever own - a large stash of weapons, piles of cash, gold bars, wigs, fake passports, and even a huge sledgehammer with the phrase ‘for important negotiations’ written on it.

Some Telegram channels rushed to point out that the video looked staged and the house in question did not belong to the mercenary boss.

It is clear that Yevgeny Prigozhin is not welcome in Russia where he risks prosecution. But if he is not in Belarus, where is he?

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Sources used:

- BBC News: 'Wagner boss Prigozhin is in Russia, Belarus ruler Lukashenko says'

- The Sun: 'Mystery deepens over Wagner warlord Prigozhin as Putin’s dictator pal admits he’s NOT in Belarus & cops raid mansion'

Vladimir Putin critic Yevgeny Prigozhin labelled 'absolute dictator' after latest conflict Vladimir Putin critic Yevgeny Prigozhin labelled 'absolute dictator' after latest conflict