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Prigozhin Re-emerges in Obvious Recruitment Video


The mercenary chief who led a short-lived mutiny in opposition to Russia’s prime navy brass in June has emerged in an unverified video message posted on Telegram channels affiliated along with his Wagner forces, showing to recruit for the group’s operations in Africa.

The destiny and whereabouts of Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the Wagner chief, have remained largely shrouded from public view since he led Wagner troops to grab navy headquarters in southern Russia earlier than main them on an advance towards Moscow in late June. The riot, which Mr. Prigozhin known as off after 24 hours, was essentially the most vital problem to Mr. Putin’s authority in many years.

Neither the authenticity of the video that surfaced Monday, nor when or the place it was made might be decided.

The video gave the impression to be the primary glimpse of Mr. Prigozhin since late July, when he appeared in unverified pictures. A number of days later, a recording circulated with a voice that gave the impression to be his saying that Wagner had paused recruiting whereas determining its “subsequent duties.”

In the video, posted across the identical time on quite a few Wagner-affiliated accounts Monday night time Moscow time, Mr. Prigozhin is seen in fatigues holding an assault rifle in an unspecified location, earlier than a backdrop of a barren terrain with scant, low-lying brush. He mentioned it was greater than 50 levels Celsius — or 122 levels Fahrenheit. His location couldn’t be confirmed, however his whereabouts has been an everyday supply of thriller.

He mentioned within the video that the Wagner Group was finishing up search-and-reconnaissance actions making Africa “freer,” suggesting the group was recruiting for its operations in Africa.

For years, Wagner has been increasing its attain in a number of African nations, notably within the Central African Republic, the place it controls giant mining and timber pursuits. Final month, Mr. Prigozhin praised the coup in Niger in a voice message on Telegram and supplied Wagner’s providers to the nation’s new leaders. One of many leaders visited neighboring Mali, the place about 1,500 Wagner troops are allied with the navy regime there.

The group has supplied safety to African presidents, propped up dictators and crushed uprisings, and has been accused of flagrant human rights abuses together with torture and homicide within the course of. As fee for its providers, it receives money or profitable mining concessions.

The diploma of operational management Mr. Prigozhin maintains over the group, nevertheless, is unknown. Russia’s Protection Ministry has demanded that Wagner fighters signal contracts as a substitute with the navy, and as part of the deal brokered by President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, Wagner forces relinquished weapons and tools earlier than leaving Russia.

Mr. Putin has additionally sought to attract a distinction between the Wagner rank-and-file and Mr. Prigozhin, placing the blame of the failed mutiny strictly on the mercenary chief whereas preserving open the potential of utilizing the fighters’ expertise and expertise.

On Saturday, the Kremlin mentioned Mr. Putin had traveled to the southern Russian metropolis of Rostov-on-Don to satisfy with navy commanders, in his first publicized go to to the navy hub because it was seized by Mr. Prigozhin as part of his mutiny.

Mr. Prigozhin has apparently been in Belarus and was not too long ago nonetheless capable of journey to Russia — final month, unverified pictures appeared to indicate him assembly with African leaders in St. Petersburg throughout a summit hosted by Mr. Putin.

However his in depth media holdings, together with a troll farm that figured prominently in Russia’s interference within the U.S. presidential election in 2016, have largely been taken aside, and state media has depicted him as a thug. He has additionally toned down his criticism of Russia’s prime navy leaders.


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