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Ambassador Freddy Mapouka while meeting with Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin at the Trezzini Palace Hotel in St Petersburg. — Facebook/Dimitry Syty
Ambassador Freddy Mapouka while meeting with Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin at the Trezzini Palace Hotel in St Petersburg. — Facebook/Dimitry Syty

After a turbulent last month that saw him going into exile in Belarus in the wake of a botched mutiny against Moscow, mercenary group Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was spotted socialising with African leaders on the sidelines of the Africa-Russia summit in St Petersburg.

In a picture uploaded on Facebook by Dmitri Syty —a Wagner operations manager in Central Asian Republics (CAR) — Prigozhin can be seen shaking hands with Ambassador Freddy Mapouka, a senior official in the CAR.

Earlier, late in June, after the deal that he would be exiled to Belarus, mediated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, it is for the second time that he has been spotted in Russian territory.

According to a BBC report, Prigozhin and Mapouka’s met at the Trezzini Palace Hotel in St Petersburg.

The meeting comes days after he began a short-lived mutiny against Russian leadership and also reportedly took control of key military sites in the Russian city of Rostov where his mercenary fighter were spotted roaming around streets with their military equipment.

Members of the Wagner group prepare to pull out from the headquarters of the Southern Military District to return to their base in Rostov-on-Don late on June 24, 2023. — AFP
Members of the Wagner group prepare to pull out from the headquarters of the Southern Military District to return to their base in Rostov-on-Don late on June 24, 2023. — AFP

After the mutiny, Russian government spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated earlier this month that Prigozhin and his companions met with President Vladimir Putin who invited 35 people to the meeting which lasted for three hours

“The only thing we can say is that the president gave his assessment of the company’s [Wagner’s] actions at the front during the Special Military Operation [in Ukraine] and also gave his assessment of the events of 24 June [the day of the mutiny],” Peskov told reporters.

He said Putin had listened to the commanders’ own explanations of what had happened and had offered them further options for employment and combat.

During the Africa-Russia Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was ready to replace “Ukrainian grain exports to Africa on both a commercial and aid basis to help avoid a global food crisis.”

“We will be ready to provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Eritrea with 25-50,000 tonnes of free grain each in the next three to four months,” Putin said.

Recently, Russia announced that it would no longer be participating in a significant UN-brokered agreement that allowed Ukrainian grain to be exported to the world including Africa through the Black Sea — a move that is bound to worsen the commodities crisis.

The deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July, aimed to alleviate a global food crisis by allowing Ukrainian grain blocked by the Russia-Ukraine conflict to be exported safely.

Nearly 33 million metric tons of corn, wheat, and other grains have been exported by Ukraine under the arrangement.

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