Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, made his first statement on Monday after the group's short-lived attempted mutiny over the weekend. He stressed that his men's armed march on Moscow was a "demonstration" not an attempted coup and that it exposed "very serious security problems" in Russia.
Prigozhin said on Telegram that the brigades stopped 200 kilometers from Moscow and blocked all military construction on the way, including airports. He added that the decision to turn around and not continue on forward was because he was trying to avoid bloodshed.
Prigozhin said that the goal of the uprising was to save his embattled group and not oust the government. "We started our march because of an injustice... The purpose of the march was to prevent the destruction of Wagner group." He asserted: "We went to demonstrate our protest, not to overthrow the government of the country."
He also spoke about Prigozhin's departure to Belarus, as a result of an agreement brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, and made suggestions on how the Wagner group could continue its activities: "Lukashenko extended his hand and offered to find solutions for the continuation of the work of the Wagner private military company within a legal jurisdiction."
Prigozhin did not disclose his location or provide more details about his exile agreement. It was also not clear what would happen to Wagner's men.
After a brief mutiny over the weekend, mercenary group chief Prigozhin agreed to a deal brokered by Lukashenko that would see him exiled to Belarus without any legal action against him in Russia. Wagner canceled the march of his forces to Moscow.
Prigozhin's reasons included the lack of financial support and the Russian government's desire to integrate Wagner soldiers into the army.
Source: Al Arabiya