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ISW: Prigozhin left Africa in haste due to Russian interference

by Abbey Fenbert August 24, 2023 7:58 AM 2 min read
Yevgeny Prigozhin, speaking in an unspecified location in Africa on Aug. 21, 2023. (Photo by Wagner Account/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said that ISW was citing "insider sources" in Russian security services. It has been edited to clarify that the ISW report was citing Russian-language Telegram channels that claimed they had insider sources in Russian security services.

Wagner commander Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was reportedly killed in a plane crash in Russia on Aug. 23, had likely fled to and from Africa due to the Russian military's attempts to undermine Wagner activities in the region, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in their Aug. 23 report.

ISW cited Russian-language Telegram channels that claimed to have insider sources in Russian security services, as reporting that these agencies have been trying "to completely block Wagner from operating in Africa."  

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Following Prigozhin's brief insurrection against the Russian government in June, the Wagner Group shifted its focus from Ukraine to its operations in African nations. The mercenary company has been tied to war crimes in the Central African Republic and Mali.

On Aug. 21, Prigozhin published a rare video address from what he claimed was an African country.

"It is possible that Prigozhin had traveled to Africa in hopes of securing further missions for Wagner personnel independent of the Russian Defense Ministry and the Kremlin," the ISW said.

According to the ISW's sources, the Russian military had a plan in motion to replace Wagner mercenaries with a corps of 20,000 soldiers.

"The source added that Prigozhin was deeply opposed to these efforts and 'made every effort to prevent them,'" the ISW said.

The alleged head of these operations was Colonel General Andrei Averyanov, a Russian special services leader. The ISW said that Averyanov has been linked to assassination attempts, including the poisoning of British intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

On Aug. 23, a plane reportedly carrying Prigozhin crashed in Russia's Tsver Oblast, killing everyone on board.

The ISW said that the "panic and impulsivity" Prigozhin displayed in fleeing Africa may have left him vulnerable to political opponents.

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