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What next for Prigozhin? OSW expert: it may end up in the political freezer

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One of the possibilities is that Yevgeny Prigozhin from Minsk will go to third countries, for example the Persian Gulf or Africa, but he can also stay in Belarus in a kind of political freezer, from where he can be pulled out and put into operation if necessary – he said in TVN24 Doctor Witold Rodkiewicz, Chief Specialist of the Team of the Russian Center for Eastern Studies.

– There are several scenarios. We all suffer from a lack of certain data and have problems with establishing basic facts – said the expert, commenting on the weekend rebellion of the head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

SEE ALSO: Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Live coverage on tvn24.pl

– We do not know whether Prigozhin really came to Minsk, with whom and in what capacity. All we know is that yesterday Putin spoke to the nation again. It was to be an immortal speech that would define the future Russia. It turned out that it was a repetition of what he said on Sunday – said the OSW analyst.

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The Kremlin publishes Putin’s first statement after the end of Prigozhin’s rebellionReuters

However, he drew attention to one element of the Russian president’s speech. – Putin confirmed that his word regarding the security guarantees given to Prigozhin is still valid. He did not say it directly, but he suggested it, said Dr. Rodkiewicz.

He noted that “this, of course, does not mean that the Russian establishment will not want to get rid of him or take revenge.” But that seems less likely. One of the possibilities is that Prigozhin from Minsk will go to third countries, for example, the Persian Gulf, Africa, but he can also stay in Minsk in a kind of political freezer, from where he can be pulled out and put into operation if necessary – the TVN24 guest speculated.

Yevgeny PrigozhinPAP/Newscom

“There is a danger that Prigozhin’s people may be used by the Belarusian authorities”

As he said, going to Belarus “is some sort of security” for Prigozhin. “Of course, everything depends on the dynamics of relations between Moscow and Minsk,” he added. He pointed out that Lukashenko is not a free actor, but “Putin’s vassal.”

– There is a danger that Prigozhin’s people may be used by the Belarusian authorities, for example on the border with Poland or Lithuaniato disrupt a NATO summit. This is one of the possibilities – said the expert.

As he said, “there is a huge disappointment in the environment that supported Prigozhin that he stopped.” – We do not know what percentage of Wagnerians are also disappointed with what happened, what percentage will remain faithful to him and will be ready to follow him to Belarus – he noted.

Wagnerians in Rostov-on-DonPAP/EPA/ARKADY BUDNITSKY

What next for Shoigu and Gerasimov?

Asked about the future of the Russian defense minister Sergey Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces in conflict with Priozhin, Rodkevich said that “a variant is possible in which they will be removed from power: – Perhaps Putin will indeed remove them, but he is not skillful at doing it “Under pressure, that would also be a sign of weakness. He can’t let some warlord decide personnel matters,” he said. “It’s unclear what strategy Putin will take,” he added.

In his opinion, Priozhin was not a “big player” in Russia. – He was a kind of Putin’s buccaneer, he had a safe-conduct from Putin to deal with dirty matters. And this safe-conduct has been withdrawn, he said. He added that he did not believe that the Wagnerian rebellion was an element of the game within the Russian elites.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu salutes Vladimir Putin PAP/EPA

The revolt of the Wagner Group

On Saturday, Yevgeny Prigozhin led an armed rebellion in Russia. The forces subordinate to him set off from Ukraine on a “march of justice”, the goal of which was to be Moscow.

The Wagnerian troops approached the Russian capital to a distance of 200 kilometers. Ultimately, as a result of negotiations with Vladimir Putinmediated by the Belarusian dictator, Prigozhin held off the assault and agreed to go to Belarus to, as he claimed, “avoid bloodshed”.

READ MORE: The Kremlin and Prigozhin have an agreement. What’s in it?

Main photo source: ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO / Reuters / Forum

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