25 Jun 2023

Russia Not To Prosecute Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhinhas, Group Members As Rebels Pull Out In Deal To Ease Crisis

Moscow: Wagner mercenary force chief Yevgeny Prigozhinhas halted his forces' march to Moscow under deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, easing Russia's most serious security crisis in decades

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S Peskov said Prigozhin will go to Belarus, and the fighters who rebelled with him would not be prosecuted by law given their "service at the front."

Prigozhinhas will leave Russia and won't face charges after calling off his troops' advance on Saturday,  Peskov said.

The feud between Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russia's military brass came to a violent head in the past day, with his forces capturing a key army headquarters in southern Russia and then heading north to threaten the capital.

The Kremlin announced he would leave for Belarus and Russia would not prosecute either him or the group's members.

It had been a dramatic day of developments, with President Vladimir Putin warning against civil war, Moscow telling locals to stay off the streets and Ukraine reveling in the chaos engulfing its enemy.

By early Sunday Wagner had pulled fighters and equipment from Rostov-on-Don, where they had seized the military headquarters, said the regional governor.

Residents cheered Wagner! Wagner!

But before they left, dozens of residents were cheering and chanting "Wagner! Wagner!" outside the military headquarters they had captured.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later told reporters that the "criminal case against Prigozhin will be dropped. He himself will go to Belarus."

Peskov also said that members of Wagner who had taken part in what authorities termed an "armed rebellion" will not be prosecuted. 

"Avoiding bloodshed, internal confrontation, and clashes with unpredictable results was the highest goal," Peskov added.

'Prigozhin humiliated Putin'

Kyiv reveled in the chaos that engulfed its enemy.

"Prigozhin humiliated Putin/the state and showed that there is no longer a monopoly on violence," Ukraine's presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.

While Russia claimed the rebellion had no impact on its Ukraine campaign, Kyiv said the unrest offered a "window of opportunity" as the nation pressed its long-awaited counter-offensive.

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