Yevgeny Prigozhin’s son ‘takes over command of Wagner’

Pavel Prigozhin, 25, is the son of Yevgeny Prigozhin
Pavel Prigozhin, 25, is the son of Yevgeny Prigozhin - EAST2WEST NEWS/EAST2WEST NEWS

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s son has taken over command of the Wagner Group and is negotiating with Moscow on returning its fighters to the war in Ukraine, groups linked to the militia have said.

Pavel Prigozhin, 25, was in talks with the Russian National Guard over the future of the mercenary group founded by his father, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said, citing a prominent Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel.

Wagner’s main combat elements are scattered across several countries, including Belarus, the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali, with its fighters having withdrawn from Ukraine earlier this year.

The group has had no clear leader since the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash in August, two months after he led a failed mutiny aimed at removing the Russian military’s top brass over operational failures in the Ukraine war.

It came as pro-Wagner groups circulated a will online dated from March this year stating that Pavel should inherit the group’s property and militia.

The document. which The Telegraph has not been able to verify, says: “All my property . . . as well as property that may be acquired by me in the future I bequeath to Pavel Evgenyevich Prigozhin.”

The reported emergence of Pavel Prigozhin as its new chief comes after some Wagner fighters reacted negatively to Vladimir Putin’s apparent embrace last week of one of its former senior commanders, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said.

Putin tasked Andrei Troshev, known by his call sign “Sedoi”, or grey-hair, with overseeing volunteer fighters in Ukraine. The Kremlin said he now worked at the Russian defence ministry.

Andrei Troshev, a former Wagner commander, will oversee volunteer fighters in Ukraine
Andrei Troshev, a former Wagner commander, will oversee volunteer fighters in Ukraine - MIKHAIL METZEL/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK

The ISW said the alleged developments involving Pavel Prigozhin indicated that “some Wagner personnel are interested in rallying around a Prigozhin-linked alternative to the Kremlin- and MoD-aligned Troshev, even if that alternative is not an independent entity.”

A Russian source cited by the think tank claimed that the younger Prigozhin was not acting independently and was under the influence of Mikhail Vatanin, head of Wagner’s security service.

But the prominent Wagner-affiliated source added that Wagner fighters would not have to sign contracts with the Russian defence ministry and that the mercenary group would retain its name, symbols, ideology and commanders under Pavel Prigozhin, ISW said.

‘Fighters return to Ukraine’

A different pro-Wagner source claimed over the weekend that Moscow was considering allowing Wagner Group elements to join the Russian National Guard as a separate unit.

A Ukrainian military spokesman said last week that several hundred Wagner fighters had returned to eastern Ukraine after withdrawing from the country following the capture of Bakhmut in May.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for Ukrainian troops in the east, said the mercenaries were scattered in different places, not part of a single unit, and had not made a significant impact on the war.

Russian military bloggers have also reported that some Wagner fighters have been returning to Ukraine.

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