The bodies of the two men were discovered “with gunshot wounds” along a roadside in Russia’s Voronezh region on July 6, according to the local branch of the Investigative Committee. According to the Baza Telegram channel, both men were found in military uniform and near a vehicle loaded with weapons, but they had no form of identification on them.
The circumstances behind their deaths became clear only when a 25-year-old suspect was arrested on Monday. He told investigators he was a member of Wagner and he had executed his two fellow fighters after they tried to back out of the mercenary group’s attempted insurrection, according to numerous reports.
It was not clear if the suspect, identified as Yaroslav Shekhovtsev, had orders to carry out the killings.
An armored column of Wagner troops had rolled through the Voronezh region en route to Moscow on June 24, with 75 of the military vehicles reportedly splitting off in the direction of Voronezh-45, a Russian army base housing nuclear weapons.
Ukrainian intelligence has claimed the group “came close” to acquiring nuclear weapons during the short-lived mutiny, though the Kremlin cast doubt on that assertion. Nearly a month after the chaotic uprising sparked fears of Russia’s war against Ukraine turning into a full-blown civil war at home, the fate of the Wagner Group remains unclear.
Shockingly, the Kremlin allowed mutiny mastermind Prigozhin to walk away after the group killed several Russian service members in their rebellion, shooting down several military helicopters on Russian soil. Prigozhin was granted safe passage to Belarus, where local authorities say Wagner fighters have begun training Belarusian troops in newly installed field camps.
A Belarusian monitoring group on Tuesday reported Prigozhin’s private jet touching down in the country for the fourth time, suggesting he is still very much in charge of the mercenary group.
In the wake of the mutiny, Vladimir Putin had held a meeting with Prigozhin and several Wagner commanders in which he tried to lure members of the group to join Russia’s regular army, though his offer was rebuffed, according to the Kommersant newspaper. His proposal for Prigozhin to be ousted in favor of another Wagner commander was also shot down.