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Putin orders Wagner fighters to sign oath of allegiance after Prigozhin death – live


Wagner chief Prigozhin killed

Vladimir Putin has ordered Wagner mercenaries to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state after a plane believed to be carrying their leader Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed near Moscow.

With immediate effect on Friday, Russia’s president signed the decree, published on the Kremlin website, which obliges anyone carrying out work on behalf of the military or Moscow’s war in Ukraine to swear a formal oath of allegiance to Russia.

The oath includes a line in which those who take it promise to strictly follow the orders of commanders and senior leaders.

It comes after the Kremlin insisted that claims Prigozhin had been killed on its orders were an “absolute lie”, as Mr Putin euologised the mercenary chief as a “talented businessman” who had made some “serious mistakes.”

Meanwhile, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko claims to have warned Prigozhin to “watch out” for threats to his life during his troops mutinous march on Moscow in June, to which he said Prigozhin had answered: “To hell with it – I will die.”

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Russian forces struck a cafe in Ukrainian front-line, killing two

Russian forces struck a cafe in a key front-line area in north-eastern Ukraine, killing two civilians and wounding a third, regional officials said.

The shelling near the city of Kupiansk came as UK officials said that Russia may try to retake the area, which was captured by Kyiv in a lightning counteroffensive last September after more than six months of Russian occupation.

Fierce fighting there earlier this month prompted mandatory evacuations and fears of a second Russian takeover.

Regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said in a Telegram post that Russian shells on Saturday struck the cafe in Podoly, an eastern suburb of Kupiansk.

He added that rescue teams were working at the site.

Tatyana Skrypnikova, 60, who sustained light shrapnel wounds, stands among debris of the house of her neighbours destroyed following a shelling in the village ofnZaoskillya, near Kupiansk, Kharkiv Oblast

(AFP via Getty Images)

In this handout photograph taken and released by the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine on August 26, 2023, war crime prosecutors work at the site of a shelling in the village of Podoly near Kupiansk, Kharkiv region.

(Office of the Prosecutor General)

Holly Bancroft26 August 2023 18:48

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WSJ reporter appeals decision to extend his pretrial detention until December

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has appealed a Moscow court’s decision to extend his pretrial detention in Russia until the end of November, documents on the court’s website show.

Mr Gershkovich is the first US journalist held on espionage charges in Russia since the Soviet era, after he was arrested in March during a work trip to the city of Yekaterinburg, nearly 1,200 miles east of Moscow. Washington has declared him to be wrongfully detained.

An order that authorised keeping Mr Gershkovich in jail before his trial was set to expire on 30 August. The Moscow City Court extended the custody order on Thursday by three months, drawing objections from US government officials and the Wall Street Journal.

The court’s website showed on Saturday that Gershkovich’s defence team had filed an appeal. The court in June rejected his appeal of the earlier ruling to keep him behind bars until the end of August.

Andy Gregory26 August 2023 18:10

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‘Gangster’ Putin committed ‘most ostentatious’ act of savagery in our lifetimes, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has stated that Vladimir Putin’s “mask is now fully off”, as world leaders and commentators continue to question his role in the death of Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The former prime minister has described the downing of the Wagner chief’s plane as “violent liquidation” and claimed that Putin was “being transformed before our eyes into an Asiatic despot”.

“I cannot think of another example of such ostentatious and uninhibited savagery by a world leader – not in our lifetimes,” he said.

Andy Gregory26 August 2023 17:39

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Russian journalist ‘poisoned’ in Germany says she had believed she was ‘safe’ in Europe

Exiled Russian journalist Elena Kostyuchenko has said she believed she would be safe in Europe – as Berlin prosecutors investigate whether she was poisoned last October.

“When you work as an investigative reporter in Russia you are always careful,” she told Reuters. “You have lots of protocols you’re following all the time. But when I found myself in Europe I totally forgot all these security measures … Somehow I was thinking that in Europe, I’m safe.”

Having worked as a foreign correspondent who exposed alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine with the Novaya Gazeta newspaper before it was forced to close under threat from Moscow, Ms Kostyuchenko’s symptoms started with disorientation and stomach ache on a train journey from Munich to Berlin.

“I had to take off my rings because my fingers looked like sausages,” she said, describing the swelling that was among her symptoms. Months later, she is still exhausted and only able to work three hours a day.

When doctors told her she had likely been poisoned her initial reaction was to laugh.

She was one of three Russian independent woman journalists who were apparently poisoned while abroad in a similar period. All three suffered similar symptoms.

Andy Gregory26 August 2023 17:21

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Ship becomes second to leave Odesa since collapse of grain deal

The second ship to leave Odesa since Moscow’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal has set sail for Bulgaria, according to Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Honcharenko, who posted a photograph of what he said was the ship leaving the port.

The Liberia-flagged bulk carrier Primus is moving from Odesa to the port of Varna in Bulgaria, news agency Interfax Ukraine reported citing the MarineTraffic database.

Odesa’s three seaports shipped tens of millions of tons of grain during Russia’s invasion under a UN-brokered deal which collapsed in July after Moscow withdrew.

Russian forces have since targeted Ukrainian ports with volleys of missiles and kamikaze drones.

Andy Gregory26 August 2023 17:05

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Bizarre moment Vladimir Putin addresses conference in ‘altered’ voice

This is the bizarre moment Vladimir Putin’s voice appeared to be ‘altered’ as he addressed a summit this week.

The pre-recorded video of his opening speech raised eyebrows when it was shown to delegates at the BRICS Business Forum in South Africa.

Putin appears to speak with bizarre altered voice in video address during Brics summit

Russian journalists posted a 30-second clip of the video on Telegram, with the caption: “Putin addressed the BRICS Business Council via video link, but not with his own voice.”

The original clip, which features his regular speaking voice, was posted on the Russian government’s website. It is unclear whether the altered video was a technical fault or had been changed on purpose.

Rachel Flynn26 August 2023 16:40

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Berlin probing ‘attempted murder’ of exiled Russian journalist who fell ill on train in Germany

Germany has launched an investigation into the suspected attempted murder of a Berlin-based Russian journalist after she suffered symptoms consistent with poisoning.

Elena Kostyuchenko exposed allegations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine while working for the Nobel Prize-winning Novaya Gazeta newspaper, until it was forced to close as part of Moscow’s harsh information crackdown.

The 35-year-old – who left Ukraine last March after being told Chechen units at Russian checkpoints had been ordered to kill her – recently revealed that she had experienced extreme disorientation, abdominal pain and swollen extremities while on a train journey from Munich to Berlin last October.

Riga-based investigative website The Insider, which helped link the alleged Salisbury Novichok attackers with Russia’s FSB security service, reported that Ms Kostyuchenko was one of three exiled Russian journalists to have fallen ill with poisoning symptoms in European capitals over the same period.

Andy Gregory26 August 2023 16:20

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Ukrainian commander claims troops have broken through toughest defence line in Zaporizhzia

Ukrainian forces believe they have broken through the most difficult line of Russian defences in the southern Zaporizhzhia region and will now be able to advance more quickly, a commander told Reuters.

Well-prepared Russian defence lines reinforced by minefields have slowed Ukraine’s counteroffensive, including their southward advance towards the Sea of Azov aimed at breaking Russia’s land bridge with annexed Crimea.

A commander who led troops into Robotyne, whose callsign “Skala” is eponymous with the battalion he leads, said just two houses in the village remained under Russian control, adding: “We don’t stop here. Next we have Berdiansk, and then more. I made it clear to my fighters at once: our goal is not Robotyne, our goal is [the Sea of] Azov.”

Berdiansk is a port of the Sea of Azov, situated roughly 100km from Robotyne, and 85 km from the strategic city of Melitopol. Both are occupied by Russia.

“We have passed the main roads that were mined. We are coming to those lines where we can go [forward]. I’m sure we’ll go faster from here,” Skala said.

Skala said Ukrainian troops had now entered territories where there were only “Russian logistics” groups, and where he made clear he did not expect Russian defences to be as difficult to break through, adding: “We are moving on to liberate all our territories.”

Andy Gregory26 August 2023 15:58

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Three Ukrainian pilots dead after two training aircraft collide in skies west of Kyiv

Three Ukrainian pilots have died after two L-39 trainer aircraft collided in mid-air in central Ukraine, Kyiv’s air force has said.

The loss of three pilots will be a blow to Ukraine, which is about to undertake a huge effort to quickly train up its air crews on Western-donated F-16 fighter jets, up to 61 of which have been pledged to Kyiv.

The crash occurred on Friday over the Zhytomyr region, which lies west of Kyiv. The air force said one of the pilots killed, using the callsign “Juice”, had become well known after giving numerous interviews to international media.

“We express our condolences to the families of the victims. This is a painful and irreparable loss for all of us,” the air force wrote on Telegram, adding that an investigation into the circumstances of the crash was taking place.

The pilots were flying L-39 jets (pictured here in Germany in 2015)

(CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

Andy Gregory26 August 2023 15:41

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Putin orders Wagner mercenaries to sign oath of allegiance

Vladimir Putin has ordered Wagner mercenaries to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state after a plane believed to be carrying their leader Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed near Moscow.

With immediate effect on Friday, Russia’s president signed the decree, published on the Kremlin website, which obliges anyone carrying out work on behalf of the military or Moscow’s war in Ukraine to swear a formal oath of allegiance to Russia.

Described in the decree as a step to forge the spiritual and moral foundations of the defence of Russia, the wording of the oath includes a line in which those who take it promise to strictly follow the orders of commanders and senior leaders.

Mr Putin’s introduction of a mandatory oath for employees of Wagner and other private military contractors appears to be clearly intended to bring such groups under tighter state control.

Vladimir Putin ordered Wagner fighers to sign an oath of allegiance, the Kremlin says

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Andy Gregory26 August 2023 15:17



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