Is Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin at event with Vladimir Putin in Russia?

World

Prigozhin does not appear to be persona non grata

You would have thought Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin would be persona non grata in Russia, having set his men on Moscow last month but, it appears, he is still most definitely not.

A photo apparently published to the Facebook account of one of Wagner’s top men in the Central African Republic, Dimitri Sytyi, appears to show Prigozhin shaking hands with a smiling CAR official at the Trezzini Palace hotel in St Petersburg, one of the hotels being used for the Russia-Africa summit.

It is possible the photo was taken some other time, but it would also make sense for Prigozhin, out of his army fatigues, to be meeting African officials when they’re in Russia seeing as Wagner’s African activities are still very much on track.

A case in point – Wagner is providing the security around this weekend’s referendum in the CAR which will see President Faustin-Archange Touadera rewrite the constitution so he can extend his time in power.

He’ll zero the number of terms he can run for president, just like Vladimir Putin did in 2020.

The CAR is heavily reliant on Wagner’s support, an example of “state capture”, MPs from the UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee said this week.

And as Vladimir Putin promises free grain to countries which need it most, it is Prigozhin who does the Kremlin’s dirty work on the African continent, steadily extending Russia’s influence and exerting just the kind of pseudo-colonial control Mr Putin professes to be saving Africa from.

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