Russia: Kremlin withdraws charges against Wagner leader Prigozhin and co-conspirators linked to ‘botched’ coup attempt

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Russian Authorities Drop Charges Against Wagner Leader Prigozhin and Others Involved in Failed Coup Attempt

In a surprising turn of events, Russian authorities have decided to withdraw charges against Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the private paramilitary group Wagner, and his associates who were implicated in the recently foiled coup attempt. This decision comes just 3 days after Prigozhin made a stunning announcement to halt his operation aimed at overthrowing the Russian regime. It is believed that this sudden change of course was the result of a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The gravity of the situation became evident when Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the organizers of the rebellion, labeling them as “traitors” who were aiding Ukraine’s government and its allies. However, the investigation into the criminal case opened by the Russian Federal Security Service revealed that the individuals involved in the armed mutiny had ceased their actions on June 24, directly aimed at committing the crime. This led to the termination of the criminal case on June 27, as stated by the investigative authority.

Notably, President Putin had also downplayed the seriousness of the coup attempt, echoing Prigozhin’s recent audio release on Telegram. In the audio, Prigozhin emphasized that the march conducted by Wagner was a form of protest and was not intended to topple the existing power structure in the country. He claimed that their objective was to avoid bloodshed and protect the interests of his private military company. Prigozhin expressed regret over the necessity to strike aircraft but justified their actions by stating that the aircraft had initiated bombings and missile strikes.

The catalyst for the coup attempt seems to have been an unjust government order requiring Wagner soldiers to sign contracts with the Defense Ministry by July 1, potentially leading to the disbandment of the group despite its achievements on the battlefield in Ukraine. Prigozhin also accused Russia’s military of attacking his troops, which further fueled his decision to march.

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The events in Russia unfolded dramatically, with Wagner fighters capturing the city of Rostov and advancing north in a convoy, breaching barricades and causing destruction along their path. Reports emerged of oil depots and key buildings being targeted by the private armed group. However, President Putin issued a stern warning, prompting Prigozhin to announce the suspension of their operation. In the latest audio, Prigozhin revealed that Belarusian President Lukashenko had offered assistance in finding legal solutions for the future work of Wagner PMC.

This unexpected turn of events has sent shockwaves throughout Russia, highlighting the complex dynamics between the country’s official armed forces and powerful private military entities. The decision to drop charges against Prigozhin and his associates marks a significant development in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt.

The repercussions of this episode are likely to reverberate for some time, raising questions about the delicate balance between state control and the activities of private paramilitary groups.

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