On July 19, Yevgeny Prigozhin gathered with militants near Osipovichi, in Belarus. During this meeting, he discussed the future of Wagner and symbolically handed over the group's flag to a man known by the nickname "Pioneer," whom he said would be the "chief in the Belarusian grouping."

 

Recent investigations conducted by the monitoring project All Eyes on Wagner and Belarusian media outlet Nasha Niva, have revealed the identity of this individual.

 

His name is reportedly Sergey Chubko, a 47-year-old Ukrainian native, born in Chernivtsi, before emigrating to Russia with his parents during the early 1990s.

 

The investigation revealed that before joining the Wagner PMC, Chubko served in the Russian Airborne Forces from 1994 to 2002.

 

According to Nasha Niva, Chubko took part with Moscow’s forces in the Chechen conflict in 1994. In 2002, he ended his contract with the Russian Airborne Forces and began a new career in the private security sector.

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Despite not having higher education, Chubko was appointed to the position of head of the city administration committee of Novorossiysk in 2003 and later took the position of deputy head of the administration of the rural district in 2005.

 

It wasn't until January 2017 that Chubko officially joined the Wagner PMC, with which he was subsequently deployed to Syria.

 

His progress within the PMC was significant, being appointed as the head of the Wagner military operation in Eastern Ghouta (Syria) after a year of service. In 2019, Chubko was relocated to Libya, where he took charge of the PMC forces in the region.

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In 2020, Chubko returned to Russia after Wagner mercenaries were attacked by American aviation in the north African country. In June, 2021, he returned to Syria before being sent as head of Wagner operations, a strategic position in the Central African Republic (CAR), a month later.

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According to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), 137 incidents of violence against civilians were recorded in CAR, resulting in 686 deaths during his time in charge.

 

Cases of harassment of by the Wagner group acting under his orders have been documented, as well as numerous cases of arbitrary detentions, violence and systematic practices of terror.

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