UPDATE 1-Russian PM urges citizens to rally behind Putin after failed mutiny

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MOSCOW, June 26 (Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Monday the country had faced “a challenge to its stability” and must remain united behind President Vladimir Putin after Saturday’s abortive mutiny by mercenary fighters heavily armed.

As part of a Saturday night deal that defused the crisis and averted possible bloodshed, the Kremlin said Wagner Group mercenaries would return to base, while their leader Yevgeny Prigozhin would move to Belarus. All criminal charges against him and his fighters would be dropped, the Kremlin said.

In what appeared to be the first public comments by a senior Russian official since then, Mishustin appealed during a televised government meeting for national unity over what he said were efforts by the West to undermine Russia.

“The main thing under these conditions is to ensure the sovereignty and independence of our country, the security and well-being of the citizens,” said Mishustin, a technocrat appointed prime minister in 2020.

“For this, the consolidation of the whole of society is particularly important; we must act together, as one team, and maintain the unity of all forces, rallying around the president,” he said. declared.

Mishustin, a former head of Russia’s federal tax service, also took a swipe at the West.

“As the president noted, almost the entire military, economic and information machine of the West is directed against us,” he said.

Putin said on Saturday that the Wagner mercenary force rebellion had threatened Russia’s very existence and vowed to crush it.

However, he has not publicly commented since then on the dramatic events or the deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that defused the crisis. (Reporting by Reuters Writing by Gareth Jones Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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