Commander-in-Chief of the Aerospace Forces, Deputy Commander of the Russian Group in Ukraine, Sergei Surovikin, has been arrested, The Moscow Times reports , citing two sources close to the Defense Ministry. Officially, the department did not comment on the information.
One of the sources claims that the “story with Surovikin” did not please the authorities. He was unable to provide any other details.
The second interlocutor of the publication claims that Surovikin was arrested in the context of the rebellion of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his fighters from the PMC Wagner. The source suggested that Surovikin chose the side of Prigozhin and for this the commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces "grabbed the egg." When asked where the general is now, the interlocutor replied: “We don’t even comment on this information through internal channels.”
For the first time, a message about the possible arrest of Surovikin appeared on the Telegram channel of blogger-propagandist Vladimir Romanov. According to him, Surovikin was arrested on June 25, the day after the Wagner PMC rebellion. Romanov claims that Surovikin is in the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center, where he got this information is unknown.
Also, interlocutors close to the Ministry of Defense note that it is not entirely clear whether Surovikin was aware of Prigozhin's rebellion.
“He did not behave very submissively when he was given the task of reading the text on camera and sorting it out, he was too daring to the leadership.”
Because of this, one might get the impression that Surovikin is part of the “Prigozhin coalition,” the source emphasizes.
Earlier on June 28, The New York Times, citing US officials familiar with the intelligence data, reported that Surovikin knew in advance about Prigozhin's plans to rebel against the Russian military leadership. Now the US authorities are trying to find out if Surovikin took any part in the development of the rebellion plan.
On June 23, Prigozhin announced that the Russian Defense Ministry launched rocket attacks on the rear camps of Wagner PMCs. He promised to respond to the blow, in which, according to him, "many fighters died", and "to deal with those who destroy Russian soldiers." After that, Prigozhin advanced towards Rostov-on-Don, and his fighters also tried to reach Moscow. Surovikin at that moment turned to the Wagner PMC mercenaries and urged them not to aggravate the domestic political situation.
In 1991, by decision of the State Emergency Committee, Surovikin personally led a column of armored vehicles, which crushed people during the August coup. Then three defenders of the "White House" were killed: Vladimir Usov, Dmitry Komar and Ilya Krichevsky. According to the official version, in the tunnel under Novy Arbat, “the column was stopped by the crowd, blockages were built on the road. Surovikin addressed the crowd with warnings... demanded to let the convoy through and fired two warning shots upward from his service weapon. Then, with a part of the convoy, he broke through the rubble and left the place of conflict, and during the continued attacks of the crowd on the remaining military vehicles, three young people were killed, ” recalls Alexander Cherkasov, a member of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Center, for Novaya Gazeta. Europe". According to RIA Novosti , after that Surovikin ended up in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center, but soon Boris Yeltsin personally ordered the release of Surovikin.
In 1995, Surovikin was found guilty of several crimes at once: aiding, acquiring and selling, as well as carrying firearms and ammunition without a permit. These articles of the Criminal Code provided for up to 8 years in prison, but, as Radio Liberty notes , the sentence turned out to be humane: one year of imprisonment on probation. Later, “when the investigation figured out that the officer had been set up, the charge was dropped and the criminal record was extinguished,” writes Proekt. The Project also reported that in March 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Tsibizov accused the division commander, Major General Surovikin, of beating him for political reasons. Later, Tsibizov withdrew his statement from the prosecutor's office. In 2014, the name of Surovikin was again discussed in the media, as the then head of Navalny's headquarters, Leonid Volkov, claimed, Surovikin worked in the Rostov region, where he led the dispatch of tank units subordinate to him to the southeast of Ukraine. In 2017, Putin appointed him commander of the aerospace forces. Twice during this period he was sent to Syria, where he spent a total of more than a year.