Commander Wagner explained that the group’s units have not yet arrived in Belarus because they are on leave until August on orders from the Prigozhin leadership.
Anton Yelizarov, a Wagner commander, said on July 8 that the private military group’s forces are in the preparation stage to relocate the facility. The commander also said Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Wagner, ordered group members to take leave until early August before moving to Belarus.
“We also have to prepare the base, the training ground, as well as coordinate with officials and local authorities, organize exchanges with law enforcement in Belarus and establish a logistics system,” Yelizarov said.
Leader Wagner on June 24, sent thousands of troops under his command to the city of Rostov-on-Don and the capital Moscow to “protest against,” not to overthrow the government.
Under the agreement brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Prigozhin agreed to withdraw his units to the barracks to avoid bloodshed and end the day of the Wagner rebellion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin then outlined three options: hand over the weapons and return them to family or friends, sign a contract with the Russian military or follow Prigozhin to Belarus. Russian authorities also pledged not to prosecute Prigozhin and the Wagner members for sedition.
President Lukashenko said on July 6 that Prigozhin and thousands of Wagner soldiers had not yet arrived in Belarus. The Belarusian Defense Ministry said on July 7 that no Wagner representative had come to see the military base that the country plans to hand over to the group’s forces.
Commander Yelizarov said that after the Wagner rebellion, Russian security forces “did not threaten” members of the group. Mr. Yelizarov believes that Wagner soldiers will continue to be loyal to the Prigozhin group leader, as he “gathered soldiers that the government ignored.”
Anton Yelizarov used the chant “Lotus” in his radio with Wagner units. In the video released on January 14, Prigozhin introduced Yelizarov as a Wagner commander with extensive combat experience who led the operation against the town of Soledar near the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast.
Russian media reported that Yelizarov was born in 1981, graduated from the Suvorov Guards Military School in Ulyanovsk in 1998 and the Ryazan Airborne Forces (VDV) Senior Command School in Novorossiysk in 2003.
Mr. Yelizarov served in a number of Russian VDV and special forces units, having served in the North Caucasus region. Mr. Yelizarov was discharged from the army in 2016, then joined the Wagner group.