Updated Jun 23, 2023, 6:57pm EDT

Russia orders investigation of Wagner group head for inciting “armed rebellion”


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Russia’s intelligence service has launched an investigation into the Wagner Mercenary Group after its leader accused the Russian military of shelling his forces and apparently calling for a rebellion. 

“There are about 25,000 of us and we are coming to sort things out,” said founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said. “Those who want to join us, it’s time to finish with this mess.”

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Prigozhin accused Russian defense minister Sergei Shoygu of “cowardly fleeing” from Rostov, in southern Russia, and then ordering the military to sabotage Wagner forces.

He later shared a video on social media channels showing a burning trench, apparently the shelled area. “They neglect the lives of soldiers. They forgot the word “justice,” and we will bring it back,” he said. “Those, who destroyed today our guys, who destroyed tens, tens of thousands of lives of Russian soldiers will be punished.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin is aware of the video, the Kremlin said, adding that “necessary measures are being taken.”

The FSB has officially accused Wagner of inciting “armed civil conflicts,” and called on Wagner troops not to follow Prigozhin’s orders.

The Wagner group has been described as Putin’s de facto private army, starting as pro-Russian separatist groups in eastern Ukraine.The group has played a crucial role in helping Russian forces during their invasion of Ukraine.