When Evgeniy Prigozhin started his armed insurrection, it was clear that he had allies within the ranks of the Russian military. His Wagner Group walked unopposed into Rostov, the HQ of the Russian military in the south and they were almost entirely unmolested as they came within 120 miles of Moscow. Vladimir Putin granted him amnesty, in return for retreat and exile, but a hunt seems to be on for those who might have backed him.
The Moscow Times is reporting the arrest of Sergei Surovikin, a general who until recently led the assault on Ukraine and had been close to Prigozhin. Citing two sources close to the Russian Ministry of Defence, the report says Surovikin ‘chose (Prigozhin’s side in the rebellion) and now he’s been grabbed by the balls’. There was no report on the whereabouts of the general, who is serving as deputy commander of the Russian troops.
Establishing the truth in Putin’s Russia is notoriously difficult: it means swimming in a sea of unconfirmed reports from by-no-means-reliable sources. But the Kremlin is quick to rebut unhelpful rumours, and it’s saying nothing about the fast-spreading story of Surovikin’s arrest.
Curiously, the report first appeared on the Telegram channel of the hardline military blogger Vladimir Romanov. Yesterday afternoon he wrote that Surovikin had been arrested on Sunday and taken to the notorious Lefortovo prison in Moscow, known for its brutal treatment of inmates and strict isolation regime. Alexei Venediktov, the former editor-in-chief of the staunchly anti-Kremlin radio station Echo of Moscow shut down in the early days of Russia’s war, has added that sources had told him that Surovikin had not been in contact with his family for three days.