Gen. Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russia’s aerospace forces, has been detained following U.S. intelligence reports that he had prior knowledge about the Wagner mercenary group’s attempted rebellion against the Kremlin, The Financial Times reported Thursday. The Moscow Times previously reported that Surovikin had been arrested.
Surovikin had reportedly not been seen since a hostage-style video recording of him denouncing the mutiny was released. Multiple experts have said that Surovikin was known to have a good relationship with Wagner’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Moscow had denied Surovikin’s arrest, telling reporters that his absence was because he was ”on vacation at home.”
It’s unclear whether Surovikin has been charged in connection to the uprising, or simply detained for interrogation, the FT reported.
The uprising and the possible involvement of a top Russian general has been widely perceived as a blow to President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power as the country struggles to keep the upper hand in the war against Ukraine.
Wagner began its insurrection against Putin after Prigozhin said Russia had shelled his forces, subsequently ordering his troops to march to Moscow and overtake the capitol.
But within 48 hours, Prigozhin called off the mutiny, saying Belarus had negotiated a treaty whereby his troops could retreat there and avoid prosecution in Russia.
It is the second time that Surovikin has been detained for allegedly assisting in an armed rebellion. He served seven months in prison for killing three protestors during the 1991 Soviet coup d'etat attempt.