Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that the country would defend itself from internal treachery following the recent mutiny by Wagner Group fighters.
In a televised address, Putin said that the unfolding events were a betrayal of the country and its people. He stressed that Russia would not allow a civil war to repeat itself in the country.
The Telegram channel of Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin earlier posted several audio recordings with accusations against the country’s military leaders. In the wake of this, the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia has opened a criminal case into a call for an armed mutiny. The FSB urged Wagner fighters not to obey Prigozhin’s orders and take measures for his detention.
Putin said that the unbounded ambitions and personal interests of some individuals had led to a betrayal of the country and its people. He called the allegations of a mutiny “treachery” and said that the heroes who fought and lost their lives for Novorossiya had also been betrayed.
Putin stressed that Russia would defend both its people and its statehood from any threats, including internal treachery. He said that the country would not allow anarchy and fratricide to prevail.
On Saturday Prigozhin denounced corruption and bureaucracy in the Russian government. In a Telegeram statement, the group’s chief said that Wagner are patriots of their country, but that they could no longer tolerate the theft of public funds and the misuse of military resources.
“We’re patriots of our Motherland. We fought and we are fighting, all fighters of PMC Wagner. And no one is going to surrender to the demands of the President, FSB, or anyone else. Because we don’t want the country to live further in corruption lies, and bureaucracy.”
The statement said that they had been sent to Africa and Ukraine on missions that were ultimately abandoned because the money that was supposed to be used to support those missions was instead stolen by government officials.
In a Friday statement on his official Telegram channel, Prigozhin said that he and his 25,000 troops would “figure out why chaos is happening in the country.” He denied that he was calling for a military coup, but the Russian FSB intelligence and Anti-Terrorism Committee are now investigating Wagner’s leadership for incitement of armed rebellion.
The Wagner Group is a private military company (PMC) that is believed to have close ties with the Russian government. It was founded by Prigozhin, a wealthy businessman who owns multiple restaurants and catering companies that provide services for the Kremlin, in 2014.
The Wagner Group has been involved in several conflicts worldwide, including in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, and the Central African Republic. The United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom have all imposed sanctions on the Wagner Group and its members.