According to the nationwide Russian newspaper Kommersant, as of the morning of June 26, the criminal case against the founder of Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, for organizing an armed rebellion (Article 279 of the Criminal Code), has not been legally terminated and continues to be investigated by agents of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).
The FSB criminal charges against Prigozhin were ready on Friday night and included inciting an armed uprising. This was in response to the Wagner commander’s vow to overthrow Russia’s military leadership. A few hours later, his mercenary fighters took control of a Defense Ministry headquarters in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don and launched a rapid advance on Moscow.
The charges are punishable by 12 to 20 years in prison.
On Saturday night, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko offered a deal whereby Prigozhin would quit his rebellion and go into exile in Belarus, which his forces had used as a launching base for incursions into Ukraine. Prigozhin grabbed the deal, and the Kremlin in response agreed to drop the armed mutiny charges.
Indeed, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Saturday night that the criminal case against Prigozhin had been lifted and that he would leave for Belarus under guarantees given by Putin. Peskov added that the members of Wagner PMC would not be prosecuted, given their distinguished service during Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
However, according to Kommersant, citing an anonymous law enforcement official, on Monday reported that the investigation into Prigozhin’s uprising is still very much alive.
Meanwhile, the head of the Defense Committee in Russia’s Lower House, Andrey Kartapolov, on Monday told Russian media that his committee is working on a bill regulating private military entities. He also noted it was too early to speak about the future prospects of PMC Wagner in light of the latest developments.
Ian Bremmer, the founder and president of Eurasia Group, a political risk research and consulting firm, told NBC News on Monday that in his opinion, Prigozhin is a “dead man walking,” adding, “I would be very surprised that he’s still with us in a few months.”
Bremmer pointed out that “Putin has imprisoned and assassinated people for far less than what Prigozhin has done to him. It’s inconceivable to me that Putin will allow him to live any longer than is absolutely necessary.”
Finally, Tatiana Stanovaya, Founder/CEO at R.Politik, and Senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center suggested that “Prigozhin’s rebellion wasn’t a bid for power or an attempt to overtake the Kremlin. It arose from a sense of desperation; Prigozhin was forced out of Ukraine and found himself unable to sustain Wagner the way he did before, while the state machinery was turning against him. To top it off, Putin was ignoring him and publicly supporting his most dangerous adversaries.”
Here is the rest of her cogent analysis:
Below is a brief description of Prigozhin’s mutiny and the factors that contributed to its outcome. We, as observers, initially missed important details due to the scarcity of information and lack of time for in-depth analysis. Here’s the perspective that currently seems most…
— Tatiana Stanovaya (@Stanovaya) June 25, 2023