The Federal Security Service (FSB) has closed a criminal investigation against the armed rebellion led by chief Yevgeny Priogzhin saying there will be no charges pressed against him or others who participated in the coup. The FSB, during its investigation, found, that the people involved “ceased activities directed at committing the crime”. The authorities pledged not to prosecute Priogzhin after the revolt was stopped on Saturday.
The charges of carrying out an army mutiny come with a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. But Priogzhin and his fighters, escaping the charges puts a contrary image to how the Russian government treats anti-government elements. Many opposition figures in the country have been subject to severe punishment by the government.
Priogzhin, in his first public comment since ending the revolt said, the society demanded it. He also said that it was not a coup, but rather a march against ‘injustice’. Last week, he announced the beginning of his armed rebellion that would be the most serious blow to President Vladimir Putin’s authority. The mercenary chief was able to capture two Russian cities and the military headquarters at Rostov-on-Don. His private military group, known as the Wagner Group reached within 200 km of the Kremlin before he ordered a halt.
President Vladimir Putin criticized the uprising’s ‘organizers’, in his nationally televised speech, without naming Priogzhin. He praised the Russian unity during times of crisis along with rank-and-file Wagner fighters for not letting the situation deteriorate. Putin also offered the mercenary fighters to either come under Russia’s Defense ministry’s orders or go to Belarus.
The current whereabouts of Proigzhin are not known but the Kremlin has said that he will be exiled to Belarus, but there has been no official confirmation from either him or the Belarusian authorities. Belaruski Hajun, an independent Belarusian military monitoring project said that a business jet that Proigzhin reportedly uses landed near Minsk on Tuesday morning.