The head of the private Russian military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, will move to neighbouring Belarus as part of a deal to defuse rebellion tensions and the criminal case against him will be closed.
On Saturday, Prigozhin led a brief revolt which saw Wagner Group soldiers under his command able to move unimpeded into the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and advance hundreds of kilometres toward Moscow. The Russian military scrambled to defend Russia’s capital.
Under the deal announced Saturday by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Prigozhin will go to neighboring Belarus, which has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Charges against him of mounting an armed rebellion will be dropped.
“There was the highest goal to avoid bloodshed and internal confrontation with unpredictable results,” Peskov said.
The deal appeared to defuse a dramatically escalating crisis that represented the most significant challenge to President Vladimir Putin in his more than two decades in power.
Putin had vowed earlier to punish those behind the armed uprising led by his onetime protege. In a televised speech to the nation, he called the rebellion a “betrayal” and “treason.”
Wagner troops advanced to just 200 kilometres from Moscow, according to Prigozhin. But after the deal was struck, he announced that he had decided to retreat to avoid “shedding Russian blood.”