Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner private military company, has been spotted in St. Petersburg, meeting with an African dignitary on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit, according to accounts associated with the mercenary group.
CNN has been unable to identify the dignitary but he was wearing a lanyard that matched the ones being worn by other officials at the summit. The dignitary is part of the Central African Republic delegation to the Russia-Africa summit, the accounts say.
This is the first time Prigozhin has been seen in public inside Russia since he led an armed mutiny last month. Since the rebellion, Prigozhin had only been seen in public on July 19, when he seemingly appeared in in a video inside Belarus, apparently greeting Wagner fighters to a base in Asipovichy.
The video was grainy and filmed in low light so CNN cannot definitively say the speaker is Prigozhin or when it was filmed, but CIA Director Bill Burns subsequently confirmed the Wagner founder was in Minsk.
“He’s moved around a bit,” said Burns at the Aspen Security Forum. “I think he’s been in Minsk lately. I’m not sure he has any plans to retire in the suburbs of Minsk, but he spent time in Russia as well.”
Wagner has had a presence in the Central African Republic for several years now, as previously reported by CNN.
CNN was able to geolocate the photograph of Prigozhin and the dignitary to the Trezzini Palace Hotel in St. Petersburg, where the Wagner founder has kept an office, according to Russian media. The hotel was one of the locations searched by Russian authorities on July 6, after he led a recently failed insurrection.