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Russian mercenary group revolts for 36 hours

Posted June. 26, 2023 07:56,   

Updated June. 26, 2023 07:56


Russia’s private mercenary group, Wagner Group, marching to Moscow in a revolt against Russian President Vladimir Putin, suspended its armed revolt. With the mediation of the Belarusian president, the revolt was resolved after 36 hours as Russia agreed not to punish Wagner Group’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and his soldiers on the condition that they withdraw to Belarus. However, it is believed that the ‘strong man’ President Putin is facing the most serious challenge during his 23-year-long term in office as the Ukrainian war is prolonged and his control over Russia is becoming weaker.

According to Reuters, Prigozhin ordered on Saturday via an audio message his troops heading to Moscow to withdraw to their base in order to avoid bloodshed. “We began our march for justice on Friday (crossing the Ukrainian border to Moscow) as they (the Russian troops) tried to dismantle Wagner Group,” he said on the reasons for the armed revolt. “In 24 hours, we got to within 200 km of Moscow."

The presidential office of Belarus, which mediated between the two sides, said the decision to halt the further movement of Wagner fighters was brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, with Putin's approval. The mercenary group began to withdraw from Rostov-on-Don in the south of Russia, which was seized by the group in the revolt, late in the afternoon of the day of the agreement. President Putin said he was witnessing backstabbing during his emergency TV speech in the morning and vowed a ‘harsh response.’ However, the Kremlin canceled the criminal charges on Prigozhin after the agreement was reached.

The armed revolt was suspended in 36 hours, but it dealt a significant blow to the leadership of President Putin, who has been called a ‘strong man’ for his robust control since he took office in 2002. “Even if the rebellion quickly fails, the shock waves will continue for months, fueling political instability and raising question marks over Putin’s fitness to lead,” said the Guardian. The Washington Post analyzed that President Putin has been ruling by pitting rival groups against each other and serving as the ultimate arbiter among feuding elites and added that the latest armed revolt exposed the deep weaknesses inside Putin’s rule, appearing to pose a threat to Putin’s position itself.

Eun-A Cho achim@donga.com