Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was photographed in St Petersburg throughout this week’s Africa-Russia summit.
He was seen shaking fingers with Ambassador Freddy Mapouka, a senior official within the Central African Republic (CAR).
The picture was posted on Fb by Dmitri Syty, who reportedly manages Wagner’s operations in CAR.
It’s the first confirmed sighting of Mr Prigozhin in Russia since Wagner’s failed mutiny in June.
Mr Prigozhin and Mr Mapouka’s assembly occurred on the Trezzini Palace resort in St Petersburg, BBC Confirm confirmed.
BBC Confirm used facial recognition software program to check recognized pictures of the CAR official with the image that includes Prigozhin and acquired a 99% match, indicating the 2 photographs are of the identical man.
Particulars of the inside seen within the background of the picture have been additionally matched to the Trezzini Palace resort which, in keeping with Russian media, is owned by Prigozhin.
The lanyard worn by Mr Mapouka has a particular sample, which is similar to that of the official lanyard worn by delegates on the summit.
Searches for a similar picture didn’t discover any earlier copies, which signifies it has solely appeared on-line not too long ago.
There are a number of hundred Wagner mercenaries in diamond-rich CAR, serving to the federal government combat insurgent teams. The UK final week imposed sanctions on the 2 heads of Wagner’s operations in CAR, accusing them of torture and killing civilians.
The assembly follows Mr Prigozhin’s appearance in Belarus last week. A video on Telegram channels linked to the Wagner mercenary group exhibits him welcoming fighters and describing current developments on the frontline in Ukraine as a “shame”.
He additionally hints that Wagner may rejoin the battle at a later date.
Through the Africa-Russia Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated he was prepared to exchange Ukrainian grain exports to Africa on each a industrial and support foundation to assist keep away from a “world meals disaster”.
“We shall be prepared to supply Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea with 25-50,000 tonnes of free grain every within the subsequent three to 4 months,” Putin stated. These are all Russian allies, besides Somalia which is struggling a extreme humanitarian disaster.
Russia not too long ago withdrew from a deal underneath which Ukrainian grain exports handed by way of the Black Sea to achieve world markets, together with Africa.
The EU stated it believes Mr Putin is deceptive African nations over his promise to ship free grain to the continent. The European Fee stated Russia was unlikely to honour its pledge.