Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has vowed that those who orchestrated the Wagner Group’s rebellion against the federation would face justice.
Putin spoke, on Monday, confirming reports that Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the mercenary group, would face charges despite a previous ‘pardon’ by the Russian Government.
On Sunday, after leading his troops halfway to Moscow, the Russian capital, Prigozhin asked them to retreat and return to base to avoid spilling blood.
The Wagner leader was on his way to topple the country’s military leaders and exact revenge for their ambush which killed ‘scores of his men’.
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Putin said Prigozhin’s actions were a “stab in the back”, adding that Russia would take ‘brutal’ actions to eliminate the threat that the Wagner group had become.
Prior to his announcements, criminal charges against the Wagner leader, who was a former ally of Putin, for organising an armed mutiny were filed by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).
However, after his retreat, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, said Prigozhin’s charges would be dropped and that he would move to Belarus.
Peskov said the conditions were part of a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to end the Wagner rebellion.
In a turn of events on Monday, TASS, Russian-state media, reported that a source in the prosecutor general’s office said the investigation against the Wagner leader has not been closed, adding that it was too soon to make such a decision.
In an address a few hours later, Putin said the rebellion was “criminal activity which is aimed at weakening the country”.
He said “any kind of blackmail is doomed to fail” and that the mutiny leaders “wanted our society to be fragmented”.
“The uprising was doomed to fail and its organisers, even though they lost their sense of right and wrong, couldn’t have failed to realise that,” he added.
The Russian leader said the entirety of Russian society was united by its responsibility to defend their homeland which contributed to the ousting of the mercenary group.
Putin also thanked Wagner officials who “took the right decision to stop and go back to prevent bloodshed”.
He added that most Wagner mercenaries are “patriots” who were “used” by organisers of the rebellion and provided them with three options.
“Today you have the opportunity to continue serving Russia by entering into a contract with the Ministry of Defence or other law enforcement agencies, or to return to your family and friends,” he said.
“The choice is yours, but I am sure it will be the choice of Russian soldiers who have realised their tragic mistake.
“The organisers of this rebellion will be brought to justice.”
Putin claimed Ukraine was involved in the weekend’s events and called the turmoil “revenge for their failed counter-offensive”.