(Reuters) – Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin posted his first video address since leading a short-lived mutiny in late June, appearing in a clip – possibly shot in Africa – on Telegram channels affiliated with the Wagner group on Monday.
Prigozhin is seen standing in a desert area in camouflage and with a rifle in his hands. In the distance, there are more armed men and a pickup truck.
Reuters was not able to geolocate or verify the date of the video, but Prigozhin’s comments and some posts in the pro-Wagner channels suggested it was filmed in Africa.
“The temperature is +50 – everything as we like. The Wagner PMC makes Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa – more free. Justice and happiness – for the African people, we’re making life a nightmare for ISIS and Al-Qaeda and other bandits,” Prigozhin says in a video.
He then says Wagner is recruiting people and the group “will fulfil the tasks that were set”. The video is accompanied by a telephone number for those who want to join the group.
The future of Wagner and Prigozhin has been unclear since he led a short mutiny against the Russian defence establishment in late June and the Kremlin said he and some of his fighters – who have fought in some of the fiercest battles of the Ukraine war – would leave for Belarus.
Since the mutiny, some Wagner fighters have moved to Belarus and started training the army there. In comments published in late July, Prigozhin also said Wagner was ready to further increase its presence in Africa.
(Reporting by Maxim Rodionov; Editing by Hugh Lawson)