Africa After Yevgeny Prigozhin

A screen grab of a video shared online shows Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Russian private security company Wagner on August 21, 2023. (Photo by Wagner Account/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Questions still surround the fate of the Wagner group, the mercenary outfit whose founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, died in a private jet crash near Moscow last week. But the Russian government looks poised to wield the muscle and influence in Africa that Prigozhin and his private military company enjoyed for years.

Accounts of Prigozhin’s final days, most of them spent in Africa, suggest his killing may have been part of a brewing fight for regional influence between the Kremlin and Wagner following the mercenary group’s short-lived putsch in June.

Just two days before his death, a camouflage-clad Prigozhin gripped an assault rifle and spoke directly to a camera in what may be the last footage seen of him alive. 

“Everything is how we like it,” the Wagner group chief said in a video posted to Telegram, an arid stretch of land rumored to be Mali visible behind him. “Wagner is conducting reconnaissance and search operations, making Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa even freer.”

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