Yevgeny Prigozhin has been pictured sitting in his underpants in what appears to be the latest bid to humiliate and discredit the once feared mercenary boss.
The leaked photo shows him sitting on a small unmade bed inside a military tent wearing a beige t-shirt and black pants with an arm raised in a stiff wave to the camera.
It was initially said to have been taken this week at a base in Osipovichi, Belarus, and held as proof he was adhering to the exile agreed following the Wagner Group’s armed mutiny.
But later reports said the image’s metadata showed it was actually taken on June 12 – some 11 days before Prigozhin launched the rebellion that would see him branded a ‘traitor’ by Vladimir Putin.
It comes after photos leaked to the media appearing to show Prigozhin donning wigs and fake beards in a series of bizarre disguises.
The warlord, who regularly criticised Russia’s military top brass for failing to properly supply his troops, was mocked on Ukrainian Telegram chats over his ‘Where is the ammo?’ rants.
They captioned the latest photo: ‘Shoigu, Gerasimov, where are the trousers?!’
The Kremlin revealed this week that Putin had held talks with Prigozhin and senior Wagner commanders on June 29 – five days after the insurrection.
Kommersant, one of Russia’s top newspapers, reported the president as saying ‘Wagner does not exist’, adding: ‘There is no law on private military organisations. It just doesn’t exist.’
Putin then discussed details of the June 29 meeting with 35 Wagner commanders.
He said he put forward several options that would allow them to continue fighting, including being led by their ‘real commander’ Andrei Troshev, known by the nom de guerre ‘Sedoi’ – or ‘grey hair’.
A highly decorated veteran of Russia’s wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, Troshev is from St Petersburg, Putin’s home town, and has been pictured with the president.
Putin is quoted as having told the paper: ‘All of them could have gathered in one place and continued to serve and nothing would have changed for them.
‘They would have been led by the same person who had been their real commander all that time.’
Putin said that many of the commanders nodded their head at his suggestion but Prigozhin, who was sitting at the front, did not see this, according to Kommersant.
He said Prigozhin replied: ‘No, the boys won’t agree with such a decision.’
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wagner’s commanders pledged loyalty to Putin and that they were ready ‘to continue to fight for the Motherland’.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who brokered the deal that ended the mutiny, said last week that his country offered Wagner field camps but noted that Prigozhin was in Russia and that his troops remained at their home camps.
Uncertainty still surrounds the fate of ‘General Armageddon’ Sergei Surovikin, the deputy commander of the Russian group of forces fighting in Ukraine, who reportedly had ties to Prigozhin.
General Surovikin hasn’t been seen since the rebellion began, when he posted a video urging an end to it.
Several Russian military bloggers have said he has been detained and questioned.
Andrei Kartapolov, a retired general who heads the defence affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, said that General Surovikin was ‘resting’ and is ‘not currently available’.
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