General Sergei Surovikin, a deputy commander of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine who has not been seen in public since last month’s armed mutiny by mercenary fighters, is “resting,” a lawmaker from the ruling party said on Wednesday.
Andrei Kartapolov, head of the State Duma Defense Committee, is heard saying in a video posted on social media: “Surovikin is currently resting. (He is) not available for now.”
Surovikin, dubbed “General Armageddon” by the Russian press for his aggressive tactics in the Syria conflict, was last seen publicly when he issued a video appeal urging a halt to the June 23-24 mutiny by fighters of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenary group while it was still underway.
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Surovikin was reported to have good relations with Wagner and with Prigozhin, who praised the general while regularly hurling abuse at Russia’s military leadership, especially Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov, over their handling of the war in Ukraine.
A New York Times report based on a US intelligence briefing said last month that Surovikin had advance knowledge of the mutiny and that Russian authorities were checking whether he was complicit.
Some Russian and international media reported last month that Surovikin had been arrested, but there has been no official confirmation of that, and the Kremlin has declined to answer questions about him.
The mutiny, which President Vladimir Putin said could have tipped Russia into civil war, amounted to the biggest challenge to the Kremlin chief’s authority since he took power more than 23 years ago.