Conflicts & War

Wagner chief claims his forces shot down Russian military chopper

Moscow, Jun 24 (EFE).- The head of Russian mercenary group PMC Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said in the early hours of Saturday that his forces had shot down a Russian military helicopter, as they marched towards Moscow in what the Russian government considers a coup attempt.

“A helicopter has just now opened fire at a civilian column. has been shot down by units of PMC Wagner,” Prigohin said in an audio message on his Telegram channel.

Earlier, the Wagner chief had denounced that two aircrafts of the Russian air force, with the identification numbers 523 and 526, had tried to attack the column of mercenaries that has presumably entered Russia’s Rostov region and is moving towards Moscow.

In an extraordinary development late on Friday, Prigozhin claimed that his troops had been attacked in a missile strike by the defense ministry and went on a tirade against the military establishment, blaming it for the death of Russian soldiers during the war and vowing to punish the leadership.

He later claimed that his forces had crossed the Ukrainian border into Russia and were on the move in what he called a “march of justice” and not a coup.

Soon after, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that it was opening a criminal case against the Wagner chief for inciting rebellion.

“Prigozhin’s statements and actions effectively constitute calls for an armed civil conflict on Russian territory and a stab in the back of Russian servicemen fighting with pro-Nazi Ukrainian forces,” the FSB press office said.

The FSB went on to denounce the claims about Russian army missiles strikes on Wagner PMC units as false and an “informational provocation,” while calling on the mercenaries to not comply with Prigozhin’s orders.

Early on Saturday following the alleged downing of the chopper, Prigozhin repeated that Wagner had no conflict with anyone except the “criminals” who he were responsible for the death of “nearly 100,000 Russian soldiers”: Russian defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and chief of general staff Valery Gerasimov.

Meanwhile Rostov governor Vasily Golubev warned on Telegram that “the current situation requires the maximum concentration of all forces to maintain order.”

“Law enforcement agencies are doing everything necessary to ensure the safety of residents of the area. I ask everyone to stay calm and do not leave the house without the need,” he added.

Security forces have blocked the main road out of regional capital Rostov-on-Don, with media reporting the deployment of armored vehicles.

Russian social media platform VKontakte blocked the page of Prigozhin, where the audios declaring the rebellion against the Russian defense ministry had been posted.


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