Two Wagner Group mercenaries were executed by their colleague for refusing to participate in Yevgeny Prigozhin’s short-lived armed mutiny last month, according to Russian officials and news reports.
The corpses of the fighters were found on July 6 resting by the side a highway that runs between the Russian city of Voronezh and the occupied city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, reported the influential Telegram news channel Mash.
The Wagner Group men were discovered next to a bullet-riddled van with military license plates, which was filled with an arsenal of weapons, including a pair of AK-74 assault rifle, a machine gun, ammunition and seven grenades.
Mash shared photos online showing a blurred image of a slain mercenary and the dark-colored van resting in a patch of grass.
Both victims were dressed in military uniforms but did not have any identification papers on them, according to the Telegram channel Baza.
An autopsy has determined that the men had been shot dead, but they have not been identified as of Tuesday.
The executions came to light after the arrest of 25-year-old Wagner Group commander Yaroslav Shehovtsov.
Shehotsov, who is now facing two murder charges, allegedly admitted to killing his comrades after “they refused to follow orders” on the day of the June 24 uprising led by Prigozhin, which was aimed at overthrowing Russia’s military leadership.
The Voronezh Investigative Committee confirmed the suspect’s arrest and purported confession under questioning in a statement Tuesday.
Prigozhin, 62, sent his Wagner fighters marching toward Moscow in late June after accusing top military brass of bungling the war in Ukraine.
However, the mercenary boss abruptly pulled the plug on the mutiny after agreeing to a truce with the Kremlin, which was brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Under the agreement, Prigozhin was supposed to go into exile in Belarus, but Lukashenko recently said that the Wagner chief had returned to Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with the financial daily Kommesrant, published last week, that he summoned Prigozhin and all his top Wagner commanders to the Kremlin just five days after their botched mutiny.
During the three-hour meeting on June 29, Putin said that he offered Wagner personnel to continue fighting in Ukraine under the leadership of a veteran commander known as “Grey Hair,” but Prigozhin reportedly vetoed the plan, telling the president that “the boys won’t agree with such a decision.”
When asked by Kommersant if Wagner would be preserved as a fighting force, Putin bizarrely replied: “But Wagner does not exist. There is no law on private military organizations. It just doesn’t exist.”
Putin’s comments have raised many eyebrows, given that Wagner mercenaries have taken an active part in the Ukraine war and had led the bloody 10-month fight to capture the city of Bakhmut in the east.
Over the weekend, Ukrainian and Polish officials reported that groups of Wagner fighters have been seen arriving in Belarus.
The Belarusian defense ministry released a video Friday, showing what it said were Wagner mercenaries instructing Belarusian soldiers at a military range near the town of Osipovichi.
Prigozhin’s fate remained unknown, although a Belarusian monitoring organization reported that his private jet had touched down in the country for the fourth time.
SOURCE: New york post