Top Russian general Surovikin may have known about mercenary chief Prigozhin’s plans. Now it is said in unconfirmed media reports that he was arrested. The Kremlin declined to comment.
In the wake of last weekend’s Wagner uprising, there are indications that a senior Russian general, Sergei Surovikin, has been arrested. This is reported by both the “Financial Times” and the “Moscow Times”.
The “Financial Times” refers to three people familiar with the matter, according to whom Surovikin was arrested. He had not been seen for several days. According to the report, however, it is unclear whether Surovikin was accused of being a co-conspirator in the mercenary uprising led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, or whether he was simply being held for interrogation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun a “purge operation” at the top of the security services, members of Moscow’s elite told the Financial Times.
“As far as we know, Putin knew about it (Prigozhin’s insurgency plans) in advance and was therefore able to prepare to a certain extent,” a Western official said. “He was able to see who did what that day. And now he’s cleaning up.” The officer said it was believed that Surovikin had been arrested, adding: “We expect more people to follow.”
Presidency leaves fate open
The Presidential Office in Moscow recently declined to comment on Surovikin’s fate. When asked if he could provide clarification, spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied: “No, unfortunately not.” He only referred to the Ministry of Defense.
Surovikin is the deputy commander of the Russian military operation in Ukraine and is called “General Armageddon” in the press because of his martial actions in the Syrian war.
Peskov also evaded the question of whether Putin still trusted Surovikin. “He is the commander-in-chief and works with the defense secretary and the chief of staff.” Questions about structural units within the Ministry of Defense should be directed to it.
Speculation about Prigozhin supporters
Surovikin has not been seen in public since Saturday, when the Wagner mercenaries ended their brief rebellion. A video was released that day in which he appealed to mercenary chief Prigozhin to stop the revolt. Surovikin had looked exhausted in this video. It was also unclear if he was speaking under duress. Since then, there have been unconfirmed reports that Surovikin is being interrogated by the security services.
According to the “New York Times”, Surovikin was said to have been informed about the uprising in advance. Citing US officials, the paper said the government in Washington is trying to find out whether Surovikin helped Prigozhin plan the rebellion. According to US intelligence information, there are also indications that other generals may have supported the mercenary boss. Peskow described the report as speculation.
The possible course of action by the Russian authorities could also affect Surovikin’s environment. Russian journalist Aleksey Venediktov, formerly head of the respected Echo Moskvy radio, wrote on Twitter that Surovikin’s deputy Andrei Yudin had been fired. The day before, however, Yudin had denied that he had been detained together with Surovikin. He told a Russian news agency that he was on vacation and at home.