Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, has praised the military coup in Niger as excellent news and offered his soldiers’ assistance in restoring order. Prigozhin is still active after organizing a failed uprising against the Russian army’s senior brass last month.
While not claiming to be Prigozhin, a voice message on Telegram app channels attributed to Wagner hailed the coup as a long overdue moment of freedom from Western colonizers and appeared to make a plea for his warriors to assist maintain order.
“What transpired in Niger was nothing more than a result of the colonizers’ conflict with the Niger people.
The statement was uploaded on Thursday night. It added, “With colonizers who are trying to impose their way of life and conditions on them and keep them in the state that Africa was in hundreds of years ago.”
Although the Reuters news agency was unable to positively identify the Wagner CEO from the speaker’s characteristic Russian tone and word choice, it was clear that it was him.
“Today, they are essentially achieving freedom by doing this. The letter stated that the colonizers had been expelled. “The rest will undoubtedly rely on the population of Niger and how successful administration would be.
After troops staged a military coup on Wednesday evening and detained President Mohamed Bazoum in the presidential palace, it was unclear who was in command of Niger.
The nation, which is among the world’s poorest but also has some of the largest uranium resources, formally declared its independence from erstwhile colonial power France in 1960.
The voicemail was the most recent indication that Prigozhin and his men are still operating in Africa, where they are eager to grow and still have security contracts in some nations like the Central African Republic (CAR).
Despite what the Kremlin claimed to be a post-mutiny agreement last month that would have seen Prigozhin, 62, transfer to neighboring Belarus, where some of his men have already begun training the army, Prigozhin appears to still have freedom of movement.
He was heard encouraging his soldiers in Belarus to collect their strength for a “new journey to Africa” in a video that was made public earlier this month.
Since the post-mutiny agreement was reached, Prigozhin has been spotted several times in Russia, and the Kremlin said he even attended a meeting with Putin, who had previously branded the mutiny “a stab in the back.”
The audio message was made public at the same time as at least two photos purportedly showing Prigozhin speaking with African summit participants in St. Petersburg, which finishes on Friday, were posted on Telegram.
The Trezzini Palace Hotel in Prigozhin’s hometown of St. Petersburg was identified by Reuters as the place seen in one of the photos. In the same photo, he is seen speaking with an official from the Central African Republic (CAR), who is wearing a lanyard that resembles those provided to summit attendees.
Prigozhin is shown posing to shake the hands of the delegates while grinning and dressed casually in white polo shirt, blue pants, and blue sneakers.
In what seemed like a sales pitch, Prigozhin seemed to brag about Wagner’s supposed effectiveness in assisting African countries with stabilization and development.
He asserted that “thousands of Wagner fighters are capable of bringing order, eliminating terrorists, and preventing them from harming the native populations of these states.”
The restoration of constitutional order in Niger, according to Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, was stated on Thursday.
According to analysts, Prigozhin’s appearances showed that his private military corporation (PMC) will keep advancing the Kremlin’s foreign policy objectives in Africa.
Yes, it’s strange that Prigozhin is back in Russia and has reportedly visited there frequently.
However, projecting normalcy and business as usual is also consistent with Wagner’s and Russia’s objectives, according to Catrina Doxsee, a specialist at the US-based research tank CSIS, who spoke on messaging platform X.
In light of the uncertainties from the previous month, “Moscow will probably use the Summit to reassure African partners of their commitment and continuity of PMC services,” she said.