Wagner warlord Prigozhin has disappeared days after mutiny as Kremlin cracks down on business empire

Wagner warlord Prigozhin has disappeared eight days after mutiny as the Kremlin cracks down on his business empire with the mercenary not seen since last week’s uprising

Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin’s business empire came under fire again yesterday when his media holdings suddenly coincided with questions about his whereabouts.

The mercenary chief has not been seen since shortly after the collapse of a mutiny by his Wagner Group fighters that shook Vladimir Putin’s regime eight days ago.

Prigozhin, normally prolific on social media, was last heard from on Telegram a week ago, despite a rumored sighting in Moscow.

Under the deal that puts an end to his insurgency, Putin’s former ally and former chef would be allowed to go into exile in Belarus.

His men, who fought some of the bloodiest battles of Ukraine’s 16-month war, were given the choice of joining him, joining the Russian armed forces or returning home. Now the closure of his network of companies has added to growing skepticism about whether Prigozhin will really be allowed to leave Russia.

The business empire of Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin (pictured) came under fire again yesterday as his media holdings suddenly collapsed amid questions about his whereabouts

Patriot Media, whose most prominent outlet was the news site RIA FAN, had followed a strongly nationalist, pro-Kremlin editorial line, while also providing positive coverage of Prigozhin and his Wagner forces.

“I am announcing our decision to close and leave the country’s information space,” RIA FAN director Yevgeny Zubarev said in a video clip posted late Saturday. Mr. Zubarev gave no reason for the decision.

Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reported that the country’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, had blocked media outlets linked to Prigozhin, without commenting on why.

Under the deal that stopped his rebellion, Vladimir Putin's former ally and former chef (pictured) would be allowed to go into exile in Belarus

Under the deal that stopped his rebellion, Vladimir Putin’s former ally and former chef (pictured) would be allowed to go into exile in Belarus

Russian media also reported that a “troll factory” used by Prigozhin to influence public opinion abroad, including the United States, had disbanded.

In his video post, Zubarev praised Patriot Media’s track record, saying it had defended both Prigozhin and Putin against attacks by representatives of the anti-Kremlin opposition “who sincerely tried to destroy our country,” including imprisoned critic Alexei Navalny.

Despite the failed mutiny, Russian authorities have not officially banned the Wagner Group, but Putin said last week that the finances of former hot dog vendor Prigozhin’s catering business would be investigated. The president said Wagner and his founder had received nearly $2bn (£1.5bn) from Russia in the past year, despite denying any state connection to the company for years.

Wagner’s ranks include thousands of convicts recruited from Russian prisons.

Founded in 2014, the group has grown into a sprawling international company with mining interests and fighters in Africa and the Middle East.