Fact Check: NO Evidence Russian Mercenary Chief Prigozhin Was Detained In Belarus


  • Автор: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: NO Evidence Russian Mercenary Chief Prigozhin Was Detained In Belarus Old Photo

Did Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko deceive Russian mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and trick him into flying to Minsk, where he was immediately detained? No, that's not true: Lead Stories found no credible evidence to support this claim. A reverse image search has revealed that the picture presented by the person sharing this video as evidence of Prigozhin's detainment in Belarus has been circulating online since at least 2018 and does not show Prigozhin.

On June 28, 2023, the claim appeared in a video posted on the TikTok account @global.news10 (archived here).

It opened:

Yevgeny Prigozhin was caught. Lukashenko deceived Prigozhin and tricked him into flying to Minsk!! He was immediately captured there! We can't upload the arrest video here because TikTok removes it immediately!! We have shared the full video of his detainment through the link in the profile! Please help spread it, they are deleting the video!!

The voice in the video says the following:

...We just saw him at the airport in Minsk. Can you imagine he was captured? They grabbed him and took him somewhere. We are all in shock. Go and watch this madness. We are all in shock.

(The text has been translated into English from Russian by Lead Stories staff).

As evidence, the TikToker presents a photo of the alleged detainment of Prigozhin in Belarus. The voice heard in the video also adds that two flights have been canceled at Minsk airport, in relation to Prigozhin's detainment.

Below is how the post appeared on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-06-29 at 11.50.30.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Jun 29 11:21:22 2023 UTC)

Lead Stories found no proof of these claims on Prigozhin's press service official Telegram account; and found no link to the alleged full video of Prigozhin's detainment in the TikTok profile, as claimed in the TikTok. A search for the phrases "Prigozhin detained in Belarus" or "Lukashenko tricked Prigozhin" conducted on June 29, 2023, using Google News' index of thousands of credible news sites did not reveal any factual reports on the claim. If such an event had occurred, it would have been of significant importance and would have been reported by international media outlets.

Through reverse image searches on Yandex and Google, also conducted on June 29, 2023, Lead Stories found that the picture depicted in this video as proof of Prigozhin's detainment in Belarus has been circulating online since 2018: It was used at different times in different stories, such as the one published on the Crimean website Taurica.net on the arrest of a 49-year-old resident of the Astrakhan region for theft, on March 22, 2018. Additionally, no credible report indicates that the alleged detainment of Prigozhin caused the cancellation of two flights at Minsk airport.

On the evening of June 23, 2023, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the mercenary group known as Wagner Group, declared his intention to lead a "march of justice" towards Moscow. This decision arose from Prigozhin's protracted conflict with Russia's Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu and from Prigozhin's claim of a missile attack by the Defense Ministry on his fighters at a "rear base." The Wagner Group took control of the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and then proceeded on past the city of Voronezh. Late on the evening of June 24, 2023, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's press service issued an announcement stating that the Belarusian President had found "an absolutely profitable and acceptable option for resolving the situation." Shortly after, Prigozhin declared that the Wagner forces were reversing their course and returning to their field camps.

On June 24, 2023, the Kremlin said Prigozhin would move to Belarus under a deal brokered by Lukashenko. The following day, Lukashenko took credit for brokering an agreement between Putin and Prigozhin and emerged as an early beneficiary of the unsuccessful Wagner march on Moscow.

On June 27, 2023, the Belarusian state news agency BELTA reported that Lukashenko announced the arrival of Prigozhin in Belarus. Reuters also wrote that a plane associated with Prigozhin and believed to be transporting him into exile was shown on a flight tracking service taking off from the Russian city of Rostov early on the same day, and landing in Belarus.

The Wagner Group is a Russian shadowy mercenary company that has been active in Ukraine, Syria, and Africa and has repeatedly been accused of war crimes and human rights abuses. On November 21, 2022, a European Parliament joint motion for a resolution urged the EU to include the Wagner group on the bloc's sanctions list of "terrorist" organizations. On January 26, 2023, the US formally designated the Wagner Group as a transnational criminal organization, freezing its US assets for helping Russia's military in the Ukraine war.

  Lead Stories Staff

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.

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