The members of Wagner’s private Russian army, detained in a Belarusian sanatorium, are being interrogated in Belarus. Criminal proceedings against 32 mercenaries were opened under the article “Mass riots preparation.”
Russia’s ambassador to Belarus, Dmitry Mezentsev, said the detained Russians “had intended to fly from Minsk to Istanbul on 25 July, so they were not going to stay in the republic for long.”
However, the interrogations of detainees revealed different information, the Head of Investigative Committee of Belarus Ivan Noskevich explained.
“During interrogations, they give divergent testimony. According to the investigation, less than half of the people say that the group allegedly intended to fly from Minsk to Istanbul. The rest pointed out the other destinations – the other countries, not just Turkey,” he said.
According to Belteleradiocompany, the detainees gave a muddled account about the trip purpose, Noskevich announced.
“Some of them flew to sunbathe, some planned to guard some objects supposedly, and the others were going to see the Hagia Sophia,” he said.
He also stated that investigators had reviewed the mercenaries’ correspondence. It reveals that they were waiting for the arrival of several more groups of their colleagues, and the groups’ leaders had the task of destroying electronic tickets for departure from Minsk on 25 July.
Now, the investigation is trying to find out whether the Russian mercenaries had weapons.
“We would also like to know if they had weapons if it was already in the country or would arrive later. If these weapons had been confiscated immediately upon detention, you understand, it would have been a completely different context of the conversation, completely different suspicions would be put forward to this group,” Noskevich said.
To recap, Wagner’s private military company, Wagner’s APC, a Russian mercenary military structure, was established in 2013. It took part in a number of conflicts, in particular in Donbas on Russia’s side, and in Syria on the side of Russia’s ally the Assad regime, in Sudan.
On Donbas, the structure provided cover to regular units of the Russian army in the battles for Debaltseve and Lugansk airport, as well as performed various tasks, in particular, the elimination of the rebels’ leaders, whose activities did not satisfy the Russian leadership.