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Mercenary Fighters of Wagner Group Moving to Belarus
Senior commander of Yevgeny Prigozhin's Wagner Group, Anton Yelizarov, also known as "Lotus", revealed that the mercenary fighters are preparing to move to Belarus as part of a deal that ended their mutiny against Russia's military leadership. The mutiny occurred on June 23-24, during which Wagner fighters briefly seized a southern Russian city and advanced towards Moscow. Since then, the exact location of Prigozhin and his mercenaries had remained uncertain. However, under the terms of the deal, Prigozhin was meant to relocate to Belarus, and his fighters were given the option to move with him, join Russia's regular armed forces, or return to their homes.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated on Thursday that Prigozhin and thousands of his fighters were still in Russia, raising concerns about the implementation of the deal. In response to this, Yelizarov mentioned that the fighters are currently on vacation until early August, as per Prigozhin's orders, before making their move to Belarus. He also emphasized the need to prepare bases, training grounds, coordinate with local governments and administrations, establish logistics, and interact with Belarus' law enforcement agencies. The authenticity of the interview, conducted on the Telegram messaging app, could not be verified by Reuters.
The Future Plans
An adviser to the Belarusian defense ministry revealed that none of the Wagner group members have visited the disused military camp offered by Lukashenko for their use. Yelizarov also stated that there have been no attempts by Russia's security forces to target the Wagner fighters since the mutiny. Prigozhin, who has been highly critical of Russia's defense ministry and General Staff chiefs in regards to the war in Ukraine, led the "march of justice" on Moscow to protest against corruption and incompetence among the top brass. Yelizarov dismissed recent attacks on Prigozhin in the Russian state media, seeing them as an attempt by Russia's military establishment to create a rift between Prigozhin and his Wagner fighters. He believed that this attempt would fail since Prigozhin himself had created and shaped the Wagner fighters when the state did not require them. Yelizarov even compared Prigozhin and his fighters to the legendary King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
Controversy Surrounding Prigozhin
Footage purportedly shot during law enforcement raids on Prigozhin's St. Petersburg office and one of his "palaces" was recently broadcasted on Russian state TV. Despite the dropping of criminal charges against Prigozhin over the mutiny, an ongoing investigation against him is reported. This development raises questions about the reconciliation between Prigozhin and the Russian authorities.
Conclusion: Impact on New Business
The movement of the mercenary fighters of Wagner Group to Belarus, as revealed by their senior commander Anton Yelizarov, carries potential implications for new businesses in the region. While the exact details of Prigozhin's deal with the Russian authorities and his relocation to Belarus remain uncertain, it is crucial to consider the possible effects on the business landscape in the country.
One potential impact is the influence of Prigozhin's presence and his network of mercenaries on the local business environment. Prigozhin has a controversial reputation, with connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin and allegations of involvement in various illicit activities. His relocation to Belarus could potentially introduce a level of instability and uncertainty, which may deter foreign investors and disrupt the local business ecosystem.
Additionally, the Wagner Group's move to Belarus may lead to increased geopolitical tensions in the region. The presence of a large number of armed fighters associated with Prigozhin can potentially escalate conflicts and create an unfavorable environment for business operations. This situation could make it challenging for new businesses to establish themselves or to expand in the region due to heightened security concerns and potential disruptions.
Furthermore, the ongoing controversy surrounding Prigozhin, including the recent law enforcement raids on his properties, indicates potential legal and regulatory risks. This situation could result in increased government scrutiny and stricter regulations, making it more challenging for new businesses to navigate the legal landscape and adhere to compliance requirements.
In conclusion, the movement of Wagner Group mercenaries to Belarus and the surrounding controversy involving Prigozhin may have a negative impact on new businesses in the region. It is crucial for entrepreneurs and potential investors to closely monitor the situation, assess the risks, and adapt their strategies accordingly to mitigate any potential adverse effects.
Article First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/07/08/wagner-fighters-preparing-to-move-to-belarus-commander-says-.html