Who will be the new leader? The future of the Wagner group without Yevgeny Prigozhin

The future of the controversial Wagner mercenary group is uncertain. The leader Yevgeny Prigozhin died in the mysterious plane crash this Wednesday in Russia halfway between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. His death since the failed coup two months ago was more than announced. Moreover, even figures such as the President of the United States, Joe BidenThey didn’t hesitate to advise him to be careful with what he ate and to pay attention to his menu.

Exactly one month ago, the director of the CIA, William Burns, made public statements about the events following the Wagner mutiny in June. Burns was asked about Prigozhin’s whereabouts during the Aspen Security Forum. “I think he’s been in Minsk lately. I’m not sure if he has any plans to retire to the Minsk suburbs. But he also spent time in Russia. And I think what we’re seeing is a very complicated dance between Prigozhin and (Vladimir) Putin.” Burns then went deeper into it.Putin is someone who generally thinks revenge is a dish served cold.. So he will try to solve the situation as much as possible. But then again, based on my experience, Putin is the ultimate apostle of vengeance. So I would be surprised if Prigozhin were spared further reprisals. In that sense, the President is right. If I were Prigozhin, I wouldn’t fire my food taster.”

Revenge is served on a cold plate, which is why it seems that Putin was not satisfied with simply destroying the leader of the Wagners. On board the Embraer Legacy 600 was not only Prigozhin, but also his controversial “number two”, Dmitri Utkin.. Wagner’s commander was a co-founder of the group and one of the mercenary leader’s most trusted men, in other circumstances he would have been the logical successor.

But his name was also listed among the passengers, according to the Russian Federal Aviation Administration.

Another possible contender for the leader of the Wagner group was Valery Chekalov. And yes, he has to be spoken of in the past tense because he was also on board the private plane that crashed on Wednesday afternoon under strange, still unexplained circumstances. Chekalov was one of Prigozhin’s closest friends. He was responsible for the logistics of the Wagner mercenary group and oversaw Prigozhin’s contracts to supply the soldiers with food. Associated with Prigozhin since the early 2000s, he also managed Wagner’s overseas projects related to geological exploration, oil or agriculture.

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The BBC adds that according to the All Eyes on Wagner investigation, Chekalov was linked to the Evropolis company. This company struck a lucrative oil deal with Syria. He paid Wagner’s mercenaries and also provided them with weapons.

Other passengers on that fateful flight also belonged to the Wagner group, leaving them completely decapitated. Also on board was the plane that never made it to St. Petersburg Yevgeny Makaryan. The former police officer joined the ranks of the mercenaries in 2016. His combat name was “Makar” and, according to the Dossier Center cited by the BBC, he had fought in Syria.

The passenger list released by the Russian authorities also includes Sergei Propustin, who has been with the Wagners since 2015. His war alias was “Kedr”. According to the Dossier Center, he belonged to a special unit that provided Prigozhin with many of his personal bodyguards.

The mercenaries flooded their Telegram channels with the theory that Prigozhin’s plane had been shot down by Russian air defenses. “There are rumors about the death of the boss of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin. We say outright that we suspect that the Kremlin officials, led by Putin, are trying to kill him!” reads one of the messages. “If the information about Prigozhin’s death is confirmed, we will organize a second ‘March of Justice’ to Moscow!” assured Wagner supporters, who insisted that in his own interests he “should be better alive…” .

Hours later, when Russia confirmed the passenger list, the news broke. “A lot of discussion about what Wagner will do in this situation. We will say one thing: let’s get started. Wait for us”, can be heard in one of the published videos.

The political commentator Marius Laurinavicius He claims that without leadership, the military group no longer exists. In statements to the Lithuanian chain LRT, Laurinavicius indicated that he just left. “Since this leadership was destroyed, it means that in Russia it was decided to destroy Wagner. Secondly, there is not much you can do without the leadership yourself. Basically, you talk about the Wagner group as a kind of operational military unit afterwards. “I think what happened doesn’t make any sense anymore,” he explained.

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