The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed his forces have entered Russia to remove the country’s top military leadership.
The Wagner chief on Saturday claimed his forces were in control of military sites in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. The military headquarters in the city oversees the fighting in Ukraine. Other videos posted on social media showed military vehicles, including tanks, on the streets outside.
Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the rebellion, saying it was “a stab in the back of our country and our people”.
“All those who prepared the rebellion will suffer inevitable punishment. The armed forces and other government agencies have received the necessary orders,” Putin said in a televised address to the nation on Saturday.
Earlier, Russia’s security services said they had opened a criminal investigation into Prigozhin for launching what they describe as a mutiny.
The Wagner chief also questioned the official Kremlin version of why Russia invaded Ukraine.
“The defence ministry is trying to deceive society and the president and tell us a story about how there was crazy aggression from Ukraine and that they were planning to attack us with the whole of NATO,” Prigozhin said in a video clip released on Telegram by his press service on Friday.
“The special operation was started for different reasons,” he said.