The independent Russian publication Verstka reports that Belarus has started building camps for Wagner Group fighters. The first of these camps is being built near Asipovichy in the Mogilev region, which is approximately 100 kilometers southeast of the capital Minsk and 200 kilometers from the border with Ukraine.
An unnamed source close to the local governor’s office confirmed that the local authorities had been instructed to erect a PMC Wagner camp in the region. According to Verstka’s source, workers were given a very short timeframe in which to erect a military-style camp with an area of 24,000 square meters to house up to 8,000 fighters.
The independent Telegram channel “Belarus Golovnovo Mozga,” posted satellite images dated June 27 that shows what appears to be construction underway at a military compound near the town.
The channel also quoted local residents, who claimed they had witnessed “strange activity” involving a “large number” of construction workers near the compound.
An unnamed forestry worker said that he had seen the documents indicating that a there would be delivery of 1,780 four-bed bunks and 400 two-seat toilets on or around Thursday June 29.
Another source is reported as saying that the Asipovichy base will be the first of a number of such camps, with suggestions that another site was already being prepared near the village of Tsel, about 20 kilometers north-west of the first camp.
On June 23, the Wagner Group had announced that units of the Russian Defense Ministry were responsible for a missile strike on one of their camps in Ukraine. The ministry denied this. It was shortly after this that Prigozhin announced his “march for justice” to Moscow.
In the early hours of June 24, the FSB said it was opening a criminal case against Prigozhin for organizing an armed uprising, stating that his actions were the start of an armed civil uprising on Russian territory and are “a knife in the back” for Russian troops.
By the afternoon of 24 June, the Wagner troops had taken control of Russia’s southern cities of Rostov-on-Don and Voronezh, and had continued their approach toward Moscow.
However, in the evening of the same day, Lukashenko issued a statement saying he had negotiated a halt to the march with Prigozhin. Later, Prigozhin announced that he had ordered his troops to return to their field camps.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated later on the evening of June 24 that criminal charges against Prigozhin had been dropped and that the Wagner chief would be free to leave for Belarus.
Relatives, including the wife of one of the Wagner Group who had been involved in the “march” on the weekend, said a number of Prigozhin’s men were still in the area of Rostov-on-Don and were waiting to be sent to Belarus in the near future. Another spouse said on Saturday, he would most likely be sent to Belarus but she had been unable to contact him since.
In spite of claims that Prigozhin had flown to the Belarus capital, his whereabouts cannot be verified since his departure from Rostov-on-Don on the evening of June 24. Lukashenko’s press service wrote on June 28 that it had no information on whether or not he had arrived in the country.
Another post on the Belarus Golovnovo Mozga Telegram channel on the morning of June 28 suggested Prigozhin and Lukashenko may have met at the Belarus president’s residence on the Minsk Sea on the evening of June 27. The rumors continue.
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