Yevgeny Prigozhin, the notorious chief of Russia’s Wagner mercenary company, expressed praise for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin after the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg, according to a telephone interview with the Afrique Media channel on July 26.
Prigozhin commended Putin’s efforts to build a personal relationship of trust with African leaders during the summit.
“What our president did, he did a very important thing, this is the second forum, and during this forum and certainly in other meetings with most of the African leaders, a personal relationship of trust was built, for Africans it is very important – trust in one word,” Prigozhin said.
While several publications, including Reuters, acknowledged the difficulty of verifying the audio, a voice resembling Prigozhin’s could be heard under the French translation. The phone interview was uploaded on YouTube but had only garnered 1,400 views as of late July 28.
Notably, this marks Prigozhin’s first public statement about Putin since the failed riot on June 24. Earlier reports suggested that Prigozhin was present at a significant Russian-African summit in St. Petersburg, despite previous agreements to leave following the failed coup.
The Financial Times highlighted Prigozhin’s continued presence in Russia as an indication of his significance within the Kremlin establishment, suggesting that Putin is not yet willing or able to distance himself from Prigozhin.
On June 24, the Wagnerites, led by Prigozhin, halted their one-day mutiny after discussions with the self-proclaimed president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. Following the talks, Putin presented the Wagnerites with three options, one of which was exile to Belarus.
Recently, an insider at the Pentagon, cited by U.S. newspaper the New York Times, stated that it was uncertain if Prigozhin had actually been to Belarus, as he might be using doubles to conceal his movements.
Furthermore, on July 14, a photo surfaced online depicting an individual resembling Prigozhin seated in a tent, wearing only his underwear. The Belarusian Hajun Monitoring Project proposed that this individual could indeed be Prigozhin, present at Wagner’s militant camp.
Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine