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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Staff and agencies

Image appears to show Russian general Sergei Surovikin for first time since Wagner mutiny

Russian General Sergei Surovikin
Russian General Sergei Surovikin is back at home in Moscow, according to local reports. A photo has emerged of him, the first to circulate since the Wagner mutiny. Photograph: Sputnik/Reuters

A photo has emerged that appears to show Russian general Sergei Surovikin, who is regarded as an ally of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner and has not been seen in public since the militia’s brief rebellion in June.

“General Sergei Surovikin is out. Alive, healthy, at home, with his family, in Moscow. Photo taken today,” Ksenia Sobchak, a Russian journalist and the daughter of Vladimir Putin’s one-time boss, said on Telegram.

The photo, which has not been verified, showed a man in sunglasses and a cap walking alongside a woman resembling Surovikin’s wife, Anna.

Unnamed US officials said Surovikin appeared to have been freed but that it was not clear if his movement was restricted, the New York Times reported.

Surovikin was last seen in public on the day of the mutiny, appearing in a video where he appealed to the mutinying mercenaries to stop. It was unclear if he had already been detained at the time.

A photo that purports to show Russian General Sergei Surovikin and his wife Anna at an unknown location.
A photo that purports to show Russian General Sergei Surovikin and his wife Anna at an unknown location. Photograph: Ostorozhno Media/Reuters

A second report, published by prominent independent Russian journalist Alexei Venediktov on his Telegram channel, said: “General Surovikin is at home with his family. He is on leave and available to the Defence Ministry.“

Venediktov provided no pictorial evidence.

Surovikin was rumoured to have been put under house arrest, interrogated, or even put in the notorious Lefortovo prison.

Surovikin, who gained the nickname “General Armageddon” during Russia’s military intervention in Syria’s civil war, was briefly in charge of Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine. Last month, Surovikin was relieved of his command of the Russian aerospace forces, in the highest-level sacking yet of a military commander after Prigozhin’s abortive mutiny in June.

Prigozhin’s public support for Surovikin, who was seen as an ally of the Wagner militia in the Russian defence ministry, had raised questions of whether he or other senior commanders aided the mutiny or at least had prior knowledge of Prigozhin’s plans.

Prigozhin died when his business jet crashed on 23 August, two months after he staged an aborted mutiny against Russian military commanders in which his Wagner mercenary troops briefly took control of the southern city of Rostov and advanced towards Moscow.

Surovikin’s disappearance led to rumours of a broader purge within the military, and more recently an influence campaign by military bloggers, former commanders and Russian officials to rehabilitate his reputation.

They pointed to the “Surovikin line”, the military defences established by Surovikin in Ukraine after he took control of the Russian invasion force from last October until January, which have been cited as helping to blunt the Ukrainian summer counteroffensive.

With Reuters

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