Putin Takes Victory Lap After Putting Down Mutiny

Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin flew to Belarus on Tuesday as part of the deal made with the Kremlin to end the short-lived rebellion last weekend, Reuters reported.

Prigozhin, who has not been seen since he arrived in the southern Russian city of Rostov last Saturday, flew by private jet from Rostov to an airbase near Minsk, according to the Associated Press.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that Prigozhin arrived in Belarus and said that the Wagner chief and some of his fighters would be permitted to remain there “for some time,” but at their “own expense.”

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to reestablish his authority by praising Russian forces for averting a possible civil war.

On Tuesday, Moscow said plans were underway for the 25,000 Wagner troops who were fighting in Ukraine to turn over their heavy weapons to Russian forces.

As part of the deal brokered with President Lukashenko, Russian officials said that the criminal investigation into the Wagner Group rebellion has been closed and neither Prigozhin nor his followers will be prosecuted.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated that Prigozhin could suffer financially for the failed uprising, telling military officials that the Kremlin would be looking closely at the contract the Russian military made with Progozhin’s Concord Group. 

On Saturday, police searched Prigozhin’s office in St. Petersburg where they found 4 billion rubles in trucks parked outside. Prigozhin said that the money was for paying the families of his fighters.

Less than 24 hours after it began, the Wagner Group revolt fizzled out last Saturday not long after President Putin spoke on national TV where he branded the leaders “traitors.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to disclose the details of the deal Moscow made with Prigozhin, only saying that President Putin gave “certain guarantees” to avoid a “worst-case scenario.”