Russia Ukraine conflict

Prigozhin may be assassinated in Belarus as Putin ‘doesn’t forgive traitors’: Expert

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Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is not yet out of danger by going to Belarus, as Russian President Vladimir Putin will never forgive a traitor, argued expert on Russia and global fellow at the Wilson Center, Jill Dougherty.

“Putin doesn’t forgive traitors. Even if Putin says, ‘Prigozhin, you go to Belarus,’ he is still a traitor and I think Putin will never forgive that,” Dougherty told CNN.

She added that it’s possible to see Prigozhin “get killed in Belarus” but it would be a tough dilemma for Moscow because as long as he “has some type of support, he is a threat, regardless of where he is.”

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Dougherty said: “If I were Putin, I would be worried about those people on the streets of Rostov cheering the Wagner people as they leave.”

“Why are average Russians on the street cheering people who just tried to carry out a coup? That means that maybe they support them or they like them. Whatever it is, it’s really bad news for Putin.”

In a surprising turn of events, Prigozhin’s heavily armed mercenaries withdrew from the southern city of Rostov, ceasing their swift approach towards Moscow. This shift followed a deal that guaranteed the mercenaries' safety, prompting them to return to their bases, leaving questions regarding Putin's control over the country.

Under this deal, mediated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Prigozhin was to relocate to Belarus. Prigozhin had led Wagner on a “march for freedom” to Moscow, targeting corrupt and inept Russian commanders he held responsible for bungling the war.

After seizing Rostov, a crucial logistical hub for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, they advanced northward, breaking through barricades. A late-night agreement reached on Saturday facilitated their withdrawal, reportedly marked by cheers, celebratory gunfire, and “Wagner” chants from the local populace.

As part of the deal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed that the charges against Prigozhin for armed mutiny would be dropped, he would move to Belarus, and the Wagner fighters wouldn't face any repercussions for their actions.

This agreement was reached due to Lukashenko's offer to mediate, approved by Putin, given his long-standing personal relationship with Prigozhin. Putin, during his Saturday address, had denounced the rebellion as a threat to Russia's existence, promising severe consequences for the instigators.

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