Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin Makes Appearance at Russia-Africa Summit at St Petersburg

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the alleged founder of the Wagner private military company, made an appearance on the sidelines of a notable Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg, despite his agreement to go into exile in Belarus after carrying out a failed mutiny in June. 

The Wagner chief’s continued activity in Russia suggests that Prigozhin is still an integral figure within the Russian ruling class. Prigozhin was caught in a photo shaking hands with Freddy Mapouka, chief of protocol for Central African Republic president Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who participated in the summit.

Dmitry Syty, one of Wagner’s most prominent figures in CAR, posted this picture on his Facebook account with the following message: “Mr. Ambassador shared with me the first photos of the Russia-Africa Summit. We see familiar faces”. Syty is the director of a Russian cultural center in the CAR capital of Bangui. He was slapped with sanctions by the United States, European Union and the United Kingdom, as one of a handful of  Russian nationals active in CAR with ties to Prigozhin. 

Furthermore, Prigozhin was reported to have met officials from Mali in addition to Niger, where a coup attempt kicked off on July 26, 2023 that threatened to depose its pro-western president, Mohamed Bazoum. Prigozhin made an agreement to move to Belarus in June  after its president, Alexander Lukashenko, facilitated a last minute deal to end the group’s mutiny against the Russian army, which Prigozhin believes has bungled Russia’s military incursion in Ukraine. However, Prigozhin has appeared to have spent a substantial amount of time in Russia since the mutiny leading to speculation of  Prigozhin potentially having colluded with the Russian government to throw the Collective West off with a fake coup attempt .

Prigozhin stated last week that Wagner would “gather our strength and head off to Africa” after departing for his exile destination in Belarus. 

Wagner has played an integral role in Russia’s influence and military operations. In some cases, Wagner has deployed its mercenaries to prop up embattled governments both in military and propagandistic and military terms.

CAR has been one of the greatest success stories of Wagner’s military operations in Africa. Touadéra largely owes his political survival to the Wagner units who arrived in 2018 to train his country’s army, which proved to be clutch in helping stamp out an attempted rebellion that took place in 2022. CAS has allegedly become a springboard for Russia’s geopolitical ambitions in Africa, per western diplomats in Bangui. 

It’s anyone’s guess what actually motivated the Wagner mutiny. Regardless, the Russian regime is still very much intact, and it’s not falling anytime soon, despite how much the fanatics in the Collective West want it to.

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