Gen. Andrey Averyanov is being tapped to run the Wagner Mercenary group’s Africa operations following the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Averyanov currently serves as the head of covert offensive operations in Russia’s military intelligence service, and he has been accused of ordering assassinations of Russian dissidents. He now has the task of maintaining Wagner’s operations in Africa after the death of their architect, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Averyanov met with African leaders during a Russia-Africa summit in July. The summit was also Prigozhin’s first public appearance following his brief mutiny against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
When Prigozhin’s private jet crashed last week, Wagner lost several members of its top brass in addition to their leader. Prigozhin’s second in command, Dmitry Utkin, and Wagner’s non-military logistics chief, Valery Chekalov, were also aboard.
Putin forced Wagner mercenaries to withdraw operations in Ukraine following their mutiny earlier this year. However, the group remains heavily active in Africa.
It is unknown what caused Prigozhin’s plane to crash, but experts believe Putin ordered an assassination.
Rescuers said they found 10 bodies in the wreckage, and Russian officials stated Sunday that a DNA analysis confirmed that Prigozhin was among them.
In comments following the crash, Putin described Prigozhin as “a man of difficult fate” who “made serious mistakes in life, and he achieved the results he needed — both for himself and, when I asked him about it, for the common cause, as in these last months. He was a talented man, a talented businessman.”
“It would be harmful to make changes immediately,” one Wagner employee in Africa told WSJ. “The first concern now is not to lose control of the situation while waiting for the appointment of one (or more) heirs.”