General Sergey Surovikin, detained after the mutiny of PMC Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been released, two US officials and a source in the Russian Defense Ministry told The New York Times.
They said the high-ranking military officer, who previously commanded Russian troops in Ukraine, was released from custody days after Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash on August 23. Despite this, it remains unclear whether there are any restrictions on the general’s movement or other prohibitions by the authorities, the interlocutors added.
According to their sources, Surovikin still retains his rank and is technically still a military officer, but “he no longer has any career prospects”.
Surovikin, considered an ally of Prigozhin, disappeared from public view after the mercenary leader spoke out against the Russian military leadership and announced a “march on Moscow” on June 23–24. The general knew about the mutiny in advance, despite the fact that at the beginning of these events his video message calling on the Wagnerites to retreat appeared on the Web, U.S. officials claimed.
On June 28, two sources close to the Defense Ministry apparatus told The Moscow Times of Surovikin’s arrest. “The story with him was not ‘ok’ there. For the authorities”, one of the interlocutors commented on the reason for the arrest. “Apparently he chose [Prigozhin’s] side [during the mutiny], and they grabbed him by the balls”, said a second.
On September 4, journalist Ksenia Sobchak published a photo of the general with his wife. “Sergey Surovikin is out. Alive, healthy, at home, with his family, in Moscow”, she reported, without specifying from where exactly he “came out”. On the same day, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry, Sergey Shoigu, did not answer the question of whether Surovikin was being investigated.
Last month, RBC sources reported that the general had been officially removed from the post of commander-in-chief of the Russian Air and Space Forces “in connection with a transfer to another job and is at the disposal” of the Defense Ministry. It then became known that General Viktor Afzalov, head of the Air Force Main Staff, had taken the post.