Putin names real commander of Wagner as he heaps more humiliation on Prigozhin

Wagner troops shot down a Russian ‘special mission’ plane

Vladimir Putin continued his furious attacks on the reputation of the Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, claiming the warlord wasn’t the real commander of the militia.

His latest remarks follow the release to social media of unflattering photos, showing Prigozhin sitting in his underpants on an unmade bed in a large tent.

Data from the photo suggest it was taken on June 12, before the warlord launched his short-lived mutiny.

The Kremlin has launched a massive campaign to discredit its former pin-up boy and turn the public against him.

Putin’s officials were shocked to see the mutineer and his troops welcomed as heroes in Rostov-on-Don – a city of just over one million people and the headquarters for the command of Russia’s Southern Military District.

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Wagner fighters captured the city without a shot fired in anger at the beginning of their “march for justice”.

Ever since the rebellion ended, Putin, who disappeared from public view for large parts of it, has been attempting to reassert his authority, as he tries to cling on to power.

He has sought to undermine Prigozhin’s popularity and hero-status among Russians through a carefully orchestrated media campaign.

In the latest attack, Putin told the newspaper Kommersant that the real military leader of Wagner was not his once close ally.

The Russian president said he had met 35 Wagner commanders, including Prigozhin, and offered them the chance to fight in the Russian army.

The meeting is said to have taken place on June 29, five days after the failed mutiny.

Putin said: “They would all be able to stick together in one place and to continue their service. They will still be led by the same person who has been their real commander all this time.”

The Kremlin tyrant named that “person” as Andrei Troshev, a former Russian army colonel.

Troshev fought in Afghanistan and Chechnya and led Wagner forces in Syria in 2016. He was previously named as an executive director of the militia.

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He was awarded Russia’s highest honorary title after capturing Palmyra from the so-called Islamic State in 2017.

Prigozhin’s troops came within hours of reaching Moscow, meeting very little resistance from Putin’s security forces along the way.

At the eleventh hour, the Wagner boss called off his revolt and agreed to go into exile in Belarus following the intervention of Alexandr Lukashenko.

There have been no verified sightings of Prigozhin since the mutiny, with some suggesting he may already be dead.

The Kremlin has also begun to dismantle Prigozhin’s business empire, that he had built up over three decades.

His business interests included companies in media, logistics, mining, film and catering.

Prigozhin’s catering businesses enjoyed lucrative contracts supplying food to Russia’s army and schools.

In 2012, he received a contract to provide meals to the Russian military worth US$1.2 billion (£916.6 million) over one year.

Since the mutiny, the Kremlin has also distributed photos showing Prigozhin wearing wigs and fake beards, in another attempt to ridicule him.

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