VLADIMIR Putin ordered the boss of the Wagner Group to assassinate the Ukrainian president in a bomb blast days after his failed coup, reports say.
Yevgeny Prigozhin had to go into exile as part of the agreement to stop his march to Moscow – but was secretly welcomed into the Kremlin late last month.
And now he may try to introduce new “aggressions” on Putin’s behalf – which may include the task of “restoring the head of Volodymyr Zelensky”, he says.
The shocking news came five days after the episode of Wagner mercenaries he almost overthrew the regime and left Russia on the brink.
Putin said that began to chase the Generals it is thought that he already knew about the coup attempt.
But despite his outrage on television denouncing Prigozhin as a “rebel” , he appears to have made an embarrassing U-turn on his own.
It also fueled speculation about the upheaval in the so-called split between Putin and the plot to replace him.
The mysterious meeting was first revealed today by the French newspaper Liberation, citing intelligence sources, and confirmed by Putin’s mouthpiece.
Peskov said 35 people were invited to the three-hour meeting, including Prigozhin and senior military officers in his Wagner group.
Ironically, Putin is said to have praised their efforts in Ukraine, less than a week after admitting that Russia had avoided “civil war”.
Peskov said: “The only thing we can say is that the president gave his assessment of the company’s actions on the front of the Special Military Operation and he also gave his assessment of what happened on June 24.”
He also said that Wagner officials reaffirmed their loyalty to Putin at the Kremlin meeting.
He said: “They (the rulers) emphasized that they are supporters and strong soldiers of the head of state and the commander of the army. They also said that they are ready to continue fighting for the Motherland.”
Five days earlier, the military captured the Russian military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don and shot down several planes when they landed 120 kilometers from Moscow.
Prigozhin himself said the rebellion was not aimed at overthrowing Putin but instead at his defense minister Sergei Shoigu and army chief Valery Gerasimov, whom he blames for the failure in Ukraine.
General Viktor Zolotov, head of the Russian Guard, and Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian intelligence agency SVR, both attended the meeting, reports Liberation.
But it is said that Gerasimov was kept outside in the cold and was not there.
Russia’s top military chief was feared to have “disappeared” after the coup for weeks before being seen in public.
Incidentally, he was also seen today giving instructions on how to operate missiles to those on the ground in a video that was allegedly recorded yesterday.
Privately today it is said that Prigozhin may offer to take on a new job in order to win back Putin.
Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov, who runs investigative news for Novaya Gazeta, said: “I think he may not apologize. [from Putin] saying: ‘Let me go back’.
“But they can do great atrocities to help Russia.
“They can try to organize an attempt to kill Zelensky and bring the head of the President of Ukraine to the Kremlin.
“Why give up? They have to do something that will take away the flavor of what Putin called ‘stabbing Russia in the back’.”
News of the bombing meeting comes after much discussion about Prigozhin’s whereabouts.
The former billionaire hotdog seller – a close ally of Putin for many years – had to go into exile in Belarus thanks to the alliance run by the dictator of Vlad Alexander Lukashenko.
At least one military camp was set up for Wagner’s 8,000 soldiers to follow him and set up new positions on Nato’s border – but they were left empty.
And Lukasjenko denied his previous claims that Prigozhin was in Minsk, saying that he believed that Wagner’s boss was actually in St Petersburg.
Flight tracking sites have shown his private plane passing through Russia in recent days as rumors mount that a secret deal was struck to allow him to stay.
And the head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, revealed: “We are closely monitoring where Wagner’s troops are moving, and where they are moving. [Prigozhin] he is walking”.
He said that Prigozhin was “walking a little”, without saying where.
And he added: “I can’t go into detail, but we have seen plans to host large groups of Wagner’s troops in Belarus. So far we have not seen many of them going to Belarus.”
Last week Prigozhin’s house was raided by the police, who showed pictures of gold, guns and photographs of severed heads.
He also revealed a cabinet full of wigs and Prigozhin’s pictures are a series of funny disguises.
The leak is said to have been intended to embarrass Prigozhin, but experts say he remains heavily guarded.
The Institute for the Study of War said that Russian security agencies “have the power to detain Prigozhin or restrict his movements in Russia” but apparently are not doing so.
It added that “the ability to work freely in Russia indicates that Prigozhin is still protected by some security guarantees and/or that the Kremlin continues to undermine his reputation in Russia through surveillance.” [him] physically or legally.”