Moscow, Jun 26 (EFE).- The head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led a mutiny against Russia’s military leadership over the weekend, said Monday that he was trying to save the private mercenary army from being disbanded, insisting that he had no intention of overthrowing Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“The aim of the march was to prevent the disappearance of Wagner (…) We did not seek to overthrow the power in the country,” Prigozhin said in his first public remarks since the mutiny began on Friday night.
Prigozhin pointed out that this unit “was to cease to exist on July 1 as a result of the intrigues” of the Russian military elite.
July 1 was the deadline set by Putin and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu for all volunteers participating in the war in Ukraine to sign contracts with the defense ministry.
He claimed that about 30 Wagner soldiers had been attacked by Russian forces, before a Wagner camp behind the frontlines in Ukraine had been hit in an alleged missile barrage.
Prigozhin led his troops across the border into the Rostov region on a “march for justice”, he said.
“We started our march in protest against the injustice (…) in 24 hours we came as close as 200 kilometers from Moscow, entered and took the city of Rostov-on-Don. The civilians were happy to see us. We set an example of how it should have been on February 24, 2022,” when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, he said.
Prigozhin, who gave no details about his current whereabouts or future plans after agreeing with the Kremlin to live in exile in Belarus, reiterated that he did not aim to “overthrow the legitimate government of the country.”
“We turned back in order not to spill the blood of Russian soldiers,” he stressed, as he already said on Saturday when he ordered the return of his men to Wagner bases.
“Our march put on the table many things we had talked about before: the serious security problems throughout the country. We blocked all military units and airfields that were in our way,” he emphasized.
Prigozhin stressed that in just one day the mercenaries covered a great distance and pointed out that “if the actions at the beginning of the Russian military special operation had been carried out by a unit like Wagner, the campaign would probably have lasted 24 hours.
“We showed the level of organization that the Russian Army should have,” he said. EFE