Russia uprising: Rebellion ends with Yevgeny Prigozhin sent to Belarus
In a remarkable turn of events, the man Russian President Vladimir Putin accused of "treason" has agreed to leave Russia and go to Belarus and all charges against the mercenary Wagner Group have been dropped.
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The leader of a mercenary group of soldiers who had set his sights on removing Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin has abandoned his march on Moscow and has agreed to go to Belarus. Wagner Group leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, will also not be prosecuted, neither will any of the soldiers under his command, it has emerged.
For most of Saturday, Vladimir Putin's hold on power in Russia looked to be weakening fast when Prigozhin mounted what some military experts have described as a "mutiny". A convoy of Wagner Group soldiers had made its way to the Russian city of Rostov, on route to Moscow, and met no resistance, claiming all military sites in Rostov, a key crossing point for Russia’s military operation, under their control.
The de-escalation occurred late on Saturday evening and was negotiated by Putin's ally and leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. It was a remarkable turn of events given the fact Putin had been talking about the potential for "civil war" only hours before.
"What we are facing is precisely treason," said Putin on Saturday morning. “All those who prepared the rebellion will suffer inevitable punishment. The armed forces and other government agencies have received the necessary orders," he added,
Although the end of the so-called coup will be a relief to Putin, the fact it happened in the first place will most certainly weaken his position as leader. As the Wagner Group entered Rostov in the early hours of Saturday, they were welcomed with open arms by the Russian people - these sort of images will not have gone unnoticed at the Kremlin.