Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has undergone treatment for stomach cancer and the illness may have played a role in his decision to launch a mutiny against the Kremlin, a report has claimed.
Mr Prigozhin was treated for years, and his cancer is now in remission, according to his former employees quoted by Russian investigative website Proekt.
And the uprising against the Russian military leadership the warlord led between June 23 and 24 may have been prompted by the fact he has little to lose following his illness.
A former Wagner employee told the Russian news outlet, as reported by The Times: “This is a man with a cut-out stomach and intestines!”
While no public documentation is available to prove Mr Prigozhin was sick with cancer, the Wagner leader is known to have been admitted for unspecified treatment at a clinic in St Petersburg linked to Vladimir Putin – Sogaz.
This facility is owned by AO Sogaz, a Russian insurance company whose deputy chief executive is a businessman called Mikhail Putin, thought to be the Russian President’s second cousin.
News of the admission to Sogaz emerged following a police raid at Mr Prigozhin’s home in St Petersburg in the wake of the Wagner mutiny.
At the residence, officers found a number of fake passports – including one bearing the name “Dmitry Geiler”.
This same name corresponded with one of the “super VIP” patients at Sogaz, according to documents obtained by Radio Liberty in 2021.
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During the raid, officers seized computers and other equipment, and found an array of items including gold bars, wigs and assault weapons.
Further clues Mr Prigozhin may have suffered a serious disease was the finding of medical equipment at his home, including ventilators.
The whereabouts of Mr Prigozhin are unclear, as it’s his future after he launched a rebellion against the Ministry of Defence, which over the past year he had openly criticised and accused of being responsible for the negative course of the war in Ukraine.
Five days after the uprising, while he was believed to have gone into exile in Belarus as part of the deal struck by Alexander Lukashenko, Mr Prigozhin held a three-hour meeting with Putin, the Kremlin said.
Dozens more people, including Wagner’s top commanders, were also in attendance, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov added.
He said earlier this week: “[They] presented their version of what happened [during the mutiny] and they emphasised that they are staunch supporters and soldiers of the head of state and the supreme commander. They also said that they are ready to continue to fight for the Motherland.
“Putin listened to the explanations of the commanders and offered them further options for employment.”