Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not allow an Agence France-Presse journalist to ask a question about General Sergey Surovikin, who has not appeared in public since the armed rebellion of PMC Wagner.
“Sergey Shoigu yesterday left unanswered a question from journalists about a possible investigation into General Surovikin. Is it possible to ask this question to you, do you know anything?” – Peskov was asked by the journalist.
“No, you can’t”, the Russian presidential spokesman replied.
The previous day, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu, when asked whether Surovikin was being investigated, asked, “All questions?” – and walked away.
Shortly afterward, journalist Ksenia Sobchak published a photo of the general with his wife and wrote that he was “alive, healthy, at home, with his family, in Moscow”.
The information that the general, detained after the mutiny of the Wagner PMC, was released, was confirmed to The New York Times by two U.S. officials and a source in the Russian Defense Ministry. According to them, the high-ranking military officer, who commanded Russian troops in Ukraine, was released from custody a few days after the death of the head of the PMC Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash on August 23.
However, it remains unclear whether there are any restrictions on the general’s movement or other prohibitions by the authorities, the NYT interlocutors added. According to them, Surovikin retains his rank and is technically still a military officer, but “he no longer has any career prospects”.
Surovikin was considered an ally of Prigozhin. This was indirectly confirmed when he disappeared from public view after the June 23–24 mutiny. According to U.S. officials, Surovikin knew about the mutiny in advance.
“The story with him there was not ‘ok’. For the authorities”, one of The Moscow Times’ sources commented on the reason for the general’s arrest. “Apparently he chose [Prigozhin’s] side [during the mutiny], and they grabbed him by the balls”, another interlocutor noted.
After his arrest, Surovikin was removed from his post as commander-in-chief of Russia’s Air and Space Forces “in connection with his transfer to another job”. General Viktor Afzalov, head of the Air Force’s Main Staff, took the post.