Russian General Sergei Surovikin has resurfaced more than two months after his last public appearance in a video urging Wagner fighters to stand down from their march on Moscow, media reported Monday.
Surovikin, long considered the main intermediary between the Wagner mercenary outfit and the Russian Defense Ministry, disappeared from public view after Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin staged his short-lived mutiny on June 23-24.
Reporters covering Russian-Turkish talks on Monday evening asked Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about Surovikin’s whereabouts, according to independent journalist Farida Rustamova, but he declined to answer.
Less than an hour later, a photo of Surovikin in civilian clothing accompanied by his wife appeared on a Telegram messaging app channel associated with media personality Ksenia Sobchak.
“General Sergei Surovikin is out,” the channel, Ostorozhno Novosti, reported. “He’s alive, healthy, at home, with his family, in Moscow.”
Surovikin is “on leave and at the disposal of the Defense Ministry,” wrote Alexei Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of the shuttered Ekho Moskvy radio station who has previously reported on circumstances surrounding the general.
The New York Times later reported on Surovikin’s release, citing two anonymous U.S. officials and one person close to the Defense Ministry.
The Russian source said Surovikin was released “in the days after” Prigozhin’s Aug. 23 death in a plane crash.
“The general has retained his rank so far and is technically still an officer in the military, but he no longer has any career prospects,” NYT reported, citing the person.
The U.S. officials said it was unclear if Surovikin faced other restrictions on his movement or other limits.
A source close to the Defense Ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Moscow Times that Surovikin had seemingly "gone his own way" following the conclusion of the military's internal proceedings into the general's suspected involvement in Prigozhin's mutiny.
"His colleagues aren't in the loop at all. It's as though he dropped out and doesn't give a f*ck and he's fine with everything," the source said.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday refused to respond to a question by an AFP journalist about Sirovikin's whereabouts.
Russia's Defense Ministry has also not commented on the circumstances surrounding the general.