Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, will relocate to Belarus as part of a deal mediated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to put an end to an armed uprising that Prigozhin had led against the Russian military hierarchy, the Kremlin announced on Saturday.
Lukashenko had offered to mediate, with Russian President Vladimir Putin's approval, because he knew Prigozhin personally for about 20 years, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
In recognition of their prior service to Russia, Peskov declared that the criminal case against Prigozhin for an armed mutiny would be dropped and that the Wagner fighters who took part in his "march for justice" would not be subject to any punishment.
Without participating, fighters would sign contracts with the Defense Ministry, which aims to control all autonomous volunteer forces by July 1.
Peskov claimed that even though Putin had earlier vowed to punish those who took part in the mutiny, the agreement had the "higher goal" of preventing conflict and bloodshed.
In order to convince Prigozhin to withdraw all of his forces, Peskov said that only promises of safety for Prigozhin — for which he claimed Putin had given his word — and for Prigozhin's men had been made.
He referred to the day's events as "tragic."
"There are no more conditions that I can tell you about," said Peskov.
Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister, and Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff, had previously demanded to be turned over to Prigozhin.
When asked if the agreement would lead to personnel changes in the Russian Defense Ministry, Peskov responded:
"These matters are the sole prerogative and within the competence of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief (Putin) in accordance with the constitution of the Russian Federation. Therefore, it is unlikely that these topics could have been discussed in the course of the above-mentioned contacts".