FACT CHECK: No, Wagner Group Did Not Assassinate The Russian Defense Minister

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A video shared on Facebook claims Wagner Group leader Yevengy Prigozhin led a coup and that his organization assassinated the Russian Defense Minister.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence for this claim.

Fact Check:

Wagner has been listed as an “educational organization” in Belarus, according to BBC News. Many Wagner mercenaries have relocated to Belarus since Prigozhin’s short-lived mutiny in June and are helping to train Belarusian troops, the outlet reported.

The Facebook video claims Prigozhin “finished the coup” and that Wagner assassinated the Russian Defense Minister. The video’s caption reads, “Prigozhin completed the coup! Wagner Assassinated Russian Defense Minister!”

This claim, however, lacks evidence. If Wagner had assassinated Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister, media outlets would have covered it, yet none have. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a think tank that publishes campaign assessments of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has not reported on Wagner assassinating Shoigu.

Shoigu recently spoke at a security conference in Moscow, where he derided Western weapons and claimed that Ukraine is depleted, according to Reuters. Reuters reported that the appearance was “rare.” The recent appearance also casts doubt on the claim that Shoigu was assassinated by Wagner. (RELATED: Does This Video Show Volodymyr Zelenskyy Dancing With A Rocket Launcher?)

The ISW wrote in its Aug. 16 update that Wagner is continuing to maintain its presence in Belarus. The ISW wrote:

“The Wagner Group appears to be maintaining its organizational presence in Belarus, though the status of its rumored personnel withdrawal remains unclear. Russian and Belarusian opposition sources posted a picture of a purported document for the registration of “Wagner Group LLC” dated August 4, 2023. The document states that the company provides “other types of education” and is located in Tsel, Asipovichy Raion, Mogilev Oblast – the same location as Wagner’s main field camp in Belarus.[80] Wagner-linked sources previously posted documents for the registration of a new Concord Management and Consulting LLC subsidiary in Belarus dated July 22, 2023.[81]”

Misinformation around the Russian-Ukrainian war is not new. Check Your Fact recently debunked a claim that Belarus expelled Russian citizens.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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