General Sergei Surovikin, the Russian military commander allegedly detained in the wake of the failed Wagner rebellion, has appeared in pictures posted online looking none the worse the wear for his apparent ordeal in recent weeks.

Dressed in casual attire with sunglasses, a hat, and a button-down shirt, he strolls alongside his wife Anna outdoors, with an ivy-covered wall in the background. The photograph doesn't readily reveal the precise location.

The news of Surovikin's release was first released by the journalist Ksenia Sobchak, who is rumored to be Putin's Goddaughter.

 She shared a photograph on her Telegram channel on Monday, Sept. 4 which purported to show the general was in good health and reunited with his family in Moscow.

Citing two US officials and a source closely associated with the Russian Defense Ministry,  the New York Times reported that Surovikin, who had been allegedly detained following the June 24 rebellion by Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been set free – although it is unclear what restrictions have been placed on him.

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 According to sources in Washington, while he has been released, is still considered an active officer of the armed forces and technically retains his rank, it is likely that his career prospects have been severely diminished.

It may be no coincidence that Surovikin's release has occurred just days after the crash of Yevgeny Prigozhin's aircraft on Aug. 23, which adds a further layer of intrigue to the story.

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A series of ambiguous incidents marked the events that led to the General’s  detention and subsequent release. 

In May, when Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin publicly criticized Russian military leaders for failing to supply his forces with ammunition, Surovikin was officially recognized to be acting as an intermediary between Wagner and the Russian army.

On the night of June 23-24 as the Wagner mercenary group mounted its “march for justice,” and called for the overthrow of Russia's military command, Surovikin made a video appeal to Prigozhin to end the rebellion. 

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Less than 24 hours later, Prigozhin called a halt to the mutiny having apparently reached an agreement with the Kremlin, resulting in his exile to Belarus.

Immediately following these events, Surovikin disappeared from public view, fueling speculation that he had been detained and removed from his position. In July, Andrei Kartapolov, head of Russia’s State Duma Defence Committee stated that the General was "resting" and "unavailable."

Who is Surovikin?

Sergey Vladimirovich Surovikin, aged 56, previously served with the Soviet Union’s special forces in Afghanistan. In 1991, aged 24, he was given command of the 2nd Guards Motor Rifle Division during the failed coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev. The coup failed and Surovikin was jailed for six months after troops under his command killed three unarmed demonstrators.

Surovikin actively participated in the Second Chechen War as well as military action after Russia’s intervention during the civil war that shook Tajikistan in the early 1990s.

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In May 2017, Surovikin was selected to lead Russian troops in Syria, for which he received the title “Hero of Russia” and was appointed commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces in October of the same year. It was in Syria that he received the nickname “General Armageddon” after reports that he authorized the targeting of homes, schools, healthcare facilities, and markets as part of operations in the country.

Surovikin received a promotion to general status in August 2021, making him the highest-ranking officer in the Russian military at the time.

 On Surovikin being appointed commander of the so-called “special military operation,” the Russian-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, wrote a letter dated Oct. 8, 2022, which said that he has known Surovikin for nearly 15 years, that “the united group of forces is now in good hands” and that he is convinced Surovikin will “make things right” at the front.

 Within three months he was demoted to deputy commander in January 2023and replaced by Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff as overall commander in Ukraine.

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