Russia drops charges as Wagner leader leaves for Belarus after aborted rebellion

The Russian government says criminal charges against Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner mercenary group, have been dropped, and he will move to Belarus.

Speaking with journalists in the early hours of Sunday, Dmitry Peskov, presidential spokesperson, said the conditions were part of a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to end the rebellion led by Prigozhin against Russia’s military leadership.

On Saturday, the Wagner leader and his troops were advancing towards Moscow, the Russian capital, after reportedly taking control of Rostov-on-Don, a city of more than a million people close to the border with Ukraine.

The private army, which had been fighting for Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, vowed to topple Vladimir Putin.

However, less than 24 hours after the uprising began, Prigozhin said the fighters would return to base, citing the risk of blood being spilled.

Putin had earlier described the militia’s mutiny as a “stab in the back”, adding that measures taken by Russia to address the situation would be brutal.

In the latest development, Peskov, who did not offer much details on the deal, said the charges brought against the Wagner leader by the federal security service had been dropped.

“You will ask me what will happen to Prigozhin personally? The criminal case will be dropped against him. He himself will go to Belarus,” the spokesperson said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, had said the rebellion of Wagner Group revealed the “full-scale weakness” of the Kremlin.