(IMAGE - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Wagner commander Yevgeny Prigozhin spoke for the first time since calling off his violent rebellion on Saturday evening, denying that he had not attempted to destabilise Russia's government. Prigozhin offered his version of events in an almost 11-minute audio chat on the Telegram app. Wagner began their march as a form of protest and in response to an injustice done to them, according to Prigozhin.The Wagner columns came to a standstill barely over 200 km from the highly defended Moscow. Prigozhin stated that he had decided to turn back to avert the impending carnage. Prigozhin did not name anybody in his audio communications, and no mention was made of his enemies Shoigu (Minister of Defence) and Gerasimov (Chief of the General Staff), despite the fact that both had previously been the focus of his apparent rebellion.
With the assistance of Belarus's president, the Kremlin was able to reach an agreement with the mercenary chief. Both Prigozhin and Belarus President Lukashenko reached an agreement that includes dismissing all charges against Prigozhin, who will relocate to Belarus. According to reports, the agreement called for the Wagner mercenary squad to be integrated into the Russian military.
Here are some translated audio file excerpts:
"Our forces were attacked by missiles and helicopters despite our lack of hostility." On June 30, we had planned a grandiose handover of military technologies in Rostov, but we were bombarded.
Wagner was intended to go out of business on July 1 because no one agreed to a deal with the defence ministry. We launched our march in response to injustice. We did not act aggressively, yet we were assaulted with missiles and helicopters. This was the catalyst. We simulated what February 24, 2022 should have looked like.
We turned around to avoid spilling Russian soldiers' blood. We're sorry we had to target Russian aircraft.
The march's goal was to save Wagner from destruction. We intended to hold individuals who made mistakes during the special military operation responsible.
We did not march to destabilise Russia's government."
According to Prigozhin, the "march for justice" brought to light problems inside Russia's armed forces and law enforcement organisations. He feels that the outcome would have been different if Wagner had completed their job at the start of the Special Operations Forces ("we demonstrated the outcome the Russian army was supposed to achieve").
Prigozhin did not confirm his location in the statement, nor did he mention whether he intended to go into exile in Belarus as part of a compromise reached with Belarus' president.