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Wagner chief seen in 1st video address after failed rebellion

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Moscow, Aug 22 (IANS) For the first time since the Wagner mercenaries’ failed rebellion against the Russian military in June, the group’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin appeared in a video address, suggesting that he was currently in Africa, the media reported on Tuesday.Although the video posted on Telegram channels linked to the mercenary group is yet to be officially verified, it shows Prigozhin in combat gear, saying the group is making Africa “more free”, reports the BBC.

In the video, he says Wagner is exploring for minerals as well as fighting Islamist militants and other criminals.

“We are working. The temperature is +50, everything as we like. Wagner PMC conducts reconnaissance and search actions, makes Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa even more free,” tPrigozhin can be heard saying.

“Justice and happiness — for the African people, we’re making life a nightmare for ISIS (Islamic State) and Al Qaeda and other bandits.”

He further says that Wagner is recruiting and the group will “continue fulfilling the tasks that were set — we made promises we would succeed”, the BBC reported.

In July, the Wagner chief was photographed in St. Petersburg, meeting an African dignitary on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit.

The picture, according to Russian media, was taken at Trezzini Palace Hotel in St. Petersburg, where he has kept an office in the premises.

The hotel was one of the locations searched by Russian authorities on July 6, after the June 24 rebellion.

Since then, Prigozhin had only been seen in public on July 19, when he seemingly appeared in a video inside Belarus, apparently greeting Wagner fighters at a base in Asipovichy.

During the rebellion, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had claimed that he convinced his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin not to “destroy” Wagner and Prigozhin, which led to a halt in the mutiny.

Prigozhin founded Wagner as a shadowy mercenary outfit that fought both in Ukraine and, increasingly, for Russian-backed causes around the world.

Prigozhin’s mercenaries are embedded in several countries including Mali, the Central African Republic (CAR), Sudan, Libya, Mozambique, Ukraine and Syria.

Over the years they have developed a gruesome reputation and were been linked to multiple human rights abuses.

After Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Wagner forces were heavily involved in taking the Ukrainian cities of Soledar and Bakhmut.

–IANS



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