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Putin’s ally claims Wagner boss dismissed security warnings after mutiny: ‘To hell with that’

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed he warned Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin to watch out for him after his brief mutiny against the Russian military that ultimately led to his apparent death this week.

“I said to him: ‘Evgeny, do you realize that you will doom your people and perish yourself?'” Lukashenko told Prigozhin, according to the Belarusian state news agency BELTA.

Media outlets have variously reported Prigozhin’s response to this warning: “To hell with that – I’ll die”, “Then I’ll die, damn it!” and “To hell with that, let me kill!”

“I told him: ‘Evgeny, I’ll send you a rope and a piece of soap right away,'” Lukashenko continued, after which he claimed that Prigozhin said: “No, no, no. I don’t want it that way.” I will die a hero.

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The comment about rope and soap is an obvious Russian idiom, referring to preparing a noose for hanging – or that Prigozhin should just hang himself now, an expert told Fox News Digital.

Putin Lukashenko

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) hugs his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting in Moscow, Russia December 29, 2018. Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool via REUTERS (Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool via REUTERS)

Lukashenko claimed that he later told Prigozhin and Dmitri Utkin, another Wagner leader, to “be careful” when visiting him. BELTA did not state when the second conversation might have taken place.

After his June mutiny, in which he marched his mercenary forces towards Moscow and stopped about 150 miles from the city to discuss the terms of a surrender with Lukashenko, who was negotiating on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prigozhin agreed to to leave Russia for Belarus.

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Yet the mercenary warlord continued to move around Russia, even after agreeing to spend his time in exile. His apparent end came when his plane crashed after an explosion in which Russia denies any involvement.

Photo of Prigozhin in a vehicle

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of military company Wagner Group, looks on from a military vehicle exiting an area of ​​the headquarters of the Southern Military District on a street in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, June 24, 2023. (AP photo, file)

The plane flew from Moscow to the city of St. Petersburg, where Prigozhin had a residence he had visited just days after beginning his “exile” to Belarus.

The Pentagon said Thursday its “initial assessment” found that “it is likely that Prigozhin was killed,” but could not comment on whether his death was part of a premeditated assassination.

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Lukashenko also revealed that Prigozhin never asked for increased security during his time in Belarus or his return to Russia.

Plane crash in Russia

This image released by Ostorozhno Novosti on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 shows the crash site of a private jet near the village of Kuzhenkino in the Tver region. Officials say a private jet crashed over Russia, killing all 10 people on board. Mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the passenger list, but it was not immediately clear if he was on board. (AP)

“I proposed it,” Lukashenko explained, saying he made the offer during his private negotiations after the mutiny. “I said: ‘If you are afraid of something, I will speak to President Putin and we will deport you to Belarus. We guarantee you full safety in Belarus.’”

“Credit where due, Yevgeny Prigozhin never asked me to deal separately with security issues,” he said.

Lukashenko cited this anecdote as explaining why he had not fulfilled his security promises to Prigozhin, adding that it was unfair to expect him to “ensure Prigozhin’s security in Africa” ​​or while he was in Russia.

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“So I’m not the type of guy you should ask to answer those questions,” he insisted. “Besides, we’ve never had this conversation before. It was about ensuring security on foreign territory.”

Rebekah Koffler, president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting and a former Defense Intelligence official, argued that Lukashenko was probably trying to “whitewash” his talks to better shield himself from criticism, saying, “There was no deal Lukashenko could make to ensure Prigozhin’s “security” or “act against Putin”.

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