Andrei Troshev, a historical figure in the Wagner group, to succeed Prigojine?

While the future of Evguéni Prigojine is written in dotted lines since Wagner’s aborted uprising, Vladimir Putin assured on Thursday that he had proposed to the militiamen the name of a new leader: Andrei Troshev, a war veteran and one of the founders of the paramilitary. group.

The king is dead, long live the king? In an interview published on 14 July, Russian President Vladimir Putin assured that he had offered Wagner’s men to serve under a new leader after the aborted rebellion by Yevgeny Prigojine, which the latter reportedly refused.

In this interview given to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Vladimir Putin gave the details of a meeting held at the end of June in the Kremlin in the presence of the commanders of the paramilitary group.

Wagner’s soldiers “could have been gathered in one place and continued to serve. For them, nothing would have changed, they would have been led by the person who was their real commander all this time”, the Russian president claimed during this session . public humiliation of his former chef.

“Many (Wagner’s commanders) nodded when I said that. But Prigozhin, who was sitting in front, (…) said after listening: ‘No, the guys are not from’ agreement with this solution,'” concludes Vladimir Putin.

A veteran of Afghanistan and Chechnya

According to the Russian press, the one whom the Kremlin master calls “the real commander” of Wagner is Andrei Troshev, alias “Sedoï”, a nom de guerre meaning “Grey hair”.

Born in April 1953 in Leningrad, this retired colonel is considered a hero in Russia. For his service during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979-1989), Andrei Troshev received two Orders of the Red Star, a military decoration of the former USSR for extraordinary service.

The officer was also decorated with two Orders of Courage and an Order of Merit for the Fatherland Medal for his participation in military operations in Chechnya in the second half of the 1990s.

Finally, Andrei Troshev was made “Hero of Russia” in 2016, the highest honorary title in the country, for his participation in the capture of Palmyra in Syria against fighters of the Islamic State organization. The former soldier had by then already retired and was acting on behalf of the Wagner group.

“Gray Hair” is also a veteran of the “Special Purpose Mobile Detachment” (OMON), the special forces of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the “Special Rapid Intervention Force” (SOBR), an elite unit attached to the Russian National Guard, responsible in particular for combating organized crime and terrorism.

Wagner’s “Executive Director”

Andrei Troshev is sanctioned by the EU for his role “in the Wagner Group’s military operations in Syria” and is described by the EU as the “executive director” of the private militia.

“He was particularly involved in the Deir al-Zor area. As such, he makes a crucial contribution to (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad’s war effort and therefore supports the Syrian regime and in benefits,” said a document dated 2021 detailing sanctions against several Russian individuals and entities.

British authorities also state that the former colonel in the Russian army was “the managing director of the Wagner group. Therefore, he supported the Syrian regime, was a member of a militia and oppressed the civilian population of Syria.”

Among his close associates is Dmitry Utkin, a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer and co-founder of the Wagner Group, known for his fascination with the history of the Third Reich.

A photograph from a reception in the Kremlin in 2016 shows Vladimir Putin with Andrei Troshev and Dmitry Utkin, decorated with several military medals.

“Sedoy” is Andrei Troshev, pictured here with Putin in 2016 along with other Wagner cmdrs. Troshev is directly to the right of Putin. Dmitry Utkin, Wagner’s top military commander, is to Putin’s far left. The others are Andrei Bogatov (“Brodyaga”) and Alexander Kuzbetsov (“Ratibor”). pic.twitter.com/6dWKxrDHPe

— John Hardie (@JohnH105) July 14, 2023

Two other militia commanders are also shown: Andrei Bogatov and Aleksandr Kuznetsov. The latter was convicted in 2010 of theft and kidnapping before being released three years later, recalls the independent Russian media Meduza.

Weapons, alcohol and money

Apart from the rumor of brutality that clings to all leaders of the Wagner group, information is rare and fragmented about the personality of Evguéni Prigojine’s possible successor.

However, Russian journalists repeated an episode of advanced alcoholism in 2017 that led to the hospitalization of Andrei Troshev. According to local media Fontanka, the mercenary was seen dead drunk in the streets of Saint Petersburg.

The paramedics were then surprised to discover five million rubles on him (almost 55,000 euros at the current exchange rate), $5,000 in cash, maps of Syria, receipts for firearms and a ticket plane to the city of Krasnodar.

Vladimir Putin’s remarks about naming Andrey Troshev as a possible successor to Yevgeny Prigojine come as the future of the Wagner boss, who has not been seen in public since June 24, looks increasingly uncertain since his attempt to rebel against the Russian military command.

The fate of the paramilitary group’s forces is also unknown at this time. Ukrainian sources reported Saturday that Wagner’s first troops had arrived in Belarus.

Loyalty rewarded?

According to Tatiana Stanovaya, a non-resident researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Russian president now wants to draw a clear distinction between Wagner’s fighters, whose experience and expertise he can exploit, and the leader of the mercenaries, whom he now regards as ruthless and untrustworthy.

“They want to preserve the core of Wagner, but under a different management, which is clearly much more loyal and even controllable,” explained Tatiana Stanovaya in an interview with The New York Times.

In early July, Newsweek revealed information that could shed light on the election of Vladimir Putin. In the wake of the failed Prigozhin uprising, Andrei Troshev was fired from the Wagner Group for exposing his boss’s plans.

The American weekly relies on a document allegedly leaked by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and circulating on Telegram among Russian networks. The latter suggests that Andrei Troshev informed high-ranking Kremlin officials about the Wagner group’s insurgent plan. An allegiance to the supreme leader whose “grey hair” could soon reap the rewards.

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