Fact Check: Defender Of The Kremlin's Rhetoric, American Scott Ritter, Did NOT Interview Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin


  • Автор: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Defender Of The Kremlin's Rhetoric, American Scott Ritter, Did NOT Interview Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin No Interview

Did a well-known defender of the Kremlin's rhetoric, American Scott Ritter, interview Wagner Group chief and leader of the failed mutiny against the Kremlin, Yevgeny Prigozhin? No, that's not true: Lead Stories found no credible evidence that such an interview occurred.

On July 3, 2023, the claim appeared in a video posted on the TikTok account @dr46yii (archived here).

The graphic overlay on the video, in Russian, says:

World Sensation: US journalist Scott Ritter has interviewed Prigozhin. Scott Ritter was the first to have a conversation with Prigozhin and asked him a series of very pointed questions, namely: Why does Lukashenko need Prigozhin? Are there plans to advance on Kyiv, pacify Poland, and will Belarus enter Ukraine? The interview turned out to be very intense and provocative. Prigozhin's answers will shock many.

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

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

Screenshot 2023-08-14 at 11.30.07.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Aug 14 10:31:12 2023 UTC)

Lead Stories found no information about such an interview on Prigozhin press service's Telegram channel, where his audio recordings and information about Wagner are published. A search for the phrase "Scott Ritter interviewed Prigozhin" conducted on August 14, 2023, using Google News' index of thousands of credible news sites, did not reveal any factual reports on this claim. If such an interview took place, it would be news of significant importance reported by international media. Scott Ritter is not a US journalist. He is a former UN weapons inspector in the 1990s, a Marine Corps analyst during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan a decade prior, and a well-known defender of the Kremlin's rhetoric.

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 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 27, 2023, Lukashenko said he had convinced Prigozhin to end a mutiny in an emotional, expletive-laden phone call. Prigozhin said Wagner pulled back from the capital to avoid a bloodbath.

On June 24, 2023, the Kremlin stated Prigozhin would move to Belarus under a deal brokered by Lukashenko. Poland and Lithuania have increased border security since thousands of Wagner group fighters arrived in Belarus under a deal that ended Wagner's armed mutiny and allowed Wagner group fighters and Prigozhin to avoid criminal charges. Both countries said they are braced for provocations from Moscow and Minsk in a sensitive area where they border Belarus and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. They commented after on August 1, 2023, Poland's government reported that two Belarusian helicopters violated Poland's airspace. Belarus denied its helicopters entered Poland. On August 7, 2023, Belarus began military exercises near its border with Poland and Lithuania.

The propaganda against Poland has gone into overdrive after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Pro-Kremlin media have repeatedly claimed Poland's alleged involvement in developing aggressive and ominous schemes targeting Belarus and Ukraine in recent years. These reports portray Poland as an imperialistic state seeking to regain its historical glory.

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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