Russia Returns Loot To Famous War Lord

( – The world stood still as Yevgeny Prigozhin, the billionaire owner of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group, launched a rebellion against the Russian leadership on June 23. He captured the port city of Rostov-on-Don in the southeastern portion of the country and reached the outskirts of Moscow. The following day, Prigozhin agreed to stand down and move to Belarus. A new report indicates that Russian authorities started returning loot it previously confiscated to the now-infamous warlord.

On July 5, Fontanka, a Russian-based independent news agency, reported that Russian authorities returned 10 billion rubles (roughly $10.96 million) and five gold bars confiscated by law enforcement officials while executing searches on Prigozhin’s properties on June 24. Reportedly, police conducted the raids as part of a criminal mutiny investigation before President Vladamir Putin agreed to dismiss charges in exchange for Prigozhin agreeing to stand down and leave Russia.

Reportedly, Prigozhin didn’t collect the money and gold bullion himself. Instead, he sent a driver with power of attorney to retrieve his property. It remains unclear whether the money was counted during the transfer. Fontanka estimated it would take “at least half a day” to confirm the total using counting machines. As a side note, the news outlet reported that this amount of cash in 5,000 ruble banknotes would weigh about 4,000 kilograms (about 8,800 pounds, or 4.4 tons).

Russian media outlets reported that Prigozhin took the money to pay the salaries of his mercenaries. He also earmarked part of it to pay survivor benefits to family members of Wagner Group members killed fighting in Ukraine, Syria, and other theaters of war.

On July 6, media outlets reported that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that Prigozhin wasn’t in Belarus, per his agreement with Putin. He told reporters that the famous Russian warlord was back in his Russian hometown of St. Petersburg and may have flown back to Moscow earlier that day.

The Washington Post reported that a local businessman confirmed that Prigozhin had returned to Russia to collect money, weapons, and other assets seized by federal security services.

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