Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Wagner chief rejects surrender, says Putin “deeply mistaken”

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of private military company (PMC) Wagner, has refused to surrender following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address describing his actions as a betrayal.

Prigozhin said on Telegram that Putin is “deeply mistaken.”

“Regarding the ‘betrayal of the motherland,’ the president is deeply mistaken. We are patriots of our Motherland, we fought and are fighting, all the fighters of the PMC Wagner,” Prigozhin said in audio messages shared by the press service.

“And no one is going to turn themselves in at the request of the president, the FSB or anyone else,” he added.

Prigozhin’s language in the message is in clear defiance of both the Kremlin and security services. Previously, he has been careful not to criticize Putin directly, or challenge his authority.

Prigozhin also returned to a familiar theme, stating that his men are patriots and refuse to perpetuate the “corruption, deceit, and bureaucracy” in which he claims Russia is living.

“When we were told that we were at war with Ukraine, we went and fought. But it turned out that ammunition, weapons, all the money that was allocated is also being stolen, and the bureaucrats are sitting [idly], saving it for themselves, just for the occasion that happened today, when someone [is] marching to Moscow,” he continued.

Putin has said the attempted insurrection by Prigozhin amounts to a betrayal of Russia and its people. He also vowed that the country’s law enforcement agencies will take decisive actions to restore order.

In a televised speech on Saturday, Putin appealed to Russian service members and those “who have been drawn into this criminal gamble by deceit or threats.”

On Friday, Prigozhin accused the Russian Defense Ministry of launching a deadly missile strike on a Wagner Group camp, vowing retaliation. The ministry, however, dismissed the allegation, describing it as “an information provocation.”

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