Russia drops uprising charges and says Wagner will hand over weapons

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Russia dropped charges against participants in the Wagner paramilitary force’s armed insurrection and said the group had agreed to hand over its weaponry.

The announcements on Tuesday came in the wake of the deal between the Kremlin and Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and appeared to mark progress towards resolving the stand-off.

The FSB, Russia’s main security service, said it had closed its investigation into the weekend rebellion because “it has been determined that its participants ceased the activities directly aimed at committing the crime”, according to state newswire Ria Novosti.

While in the immediate aftermath of the failed insurrection the Kremlin had said the charges would be dropped, they had remained in force, in an apparent bid to put pressure on Wagner to abide by the terms of the deal.

The Russian defence ministry also said Wagner was preparing to hand over weaponry to the army.

The announcements, made within a few minutes of each other, came after President Vladimir Putin urged the group’s fighters to join the army, stand down or leave the country.

“Preparations are ongoing for the transfer by Wagner PMC of heavy military equipment to active units of the Armed Forces of Russia,” the ministry said on Tuesday.

Wagner did not immediately confirm whether it would surrender its weapons.

Prigozhin claimed on Monday that Wagner had previously planned to hand over its equipment to the defence ministry — until Russia’s army hit one of the group’s bases in an air strike last week. The ministry said Prigozhin’s claims were groundless and no strike was carried out.

On Monday evening, Putin delivered an angry television address in his first public appearance since the Kremlin agreed to a truce to end Prigozhin’s march on Moscow on Saturday.

In his comments, Putin said Wagner’s leaders had “betrayed the country and those who were with them”, adding that most of the group’s fighters were “patriots of Russia” who had been “used” by their command.

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