Kremlin says Wagner chief Prigozhin met Putin in Moscow five days after rebellion

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The Kremlin said on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin on June 29, five days after the group marched towards Moscow in a short-lived rebellion.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Putin invited 35 people to the meeting, including unit commanders, and that it lasted three hours. The Wagner commanders told Putin they were his soldiers and would continue to fight for him, Peskov said.

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The brief mutiny led by Prigozhin, in which Wagner fighters took control of the southern city of Rostov, confronted Putin with the gravest challenge to his hold on power since taking over as Russia's paramount leader on the last day of 1999.

It was defused in a deal brokered by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. Putin has since thanked his army and security services for averting chaos and civil war.

Prigozhin has said the mutiny was not aimed at overthrowing the government but at “bringing to justice” the army and defense chiefs for what he called their blunders and unprofessional actions in Ukraine.

Prigozhin was meant to leave for Belarus under the terms of the deal but Lukashenko said last week he was back in Russia and that Wagner fighters had not yet taken up an offer to relocate to Belarus, raising questions about the implementation of the agreement.

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