We may assume that Yevgeny Prigozhin and other passengers of the Mi-8 helicopter were in the Asipovichy area on the night of July 11-12, and didn’t return to Minsk.
On July 11 at 19:40 (hereinafter — GMT+3), Yevgeny Prigozhin’s business jet Embraer Legacy 600 (registration number RA-02795) arrived at Machulishchy airfield from Moscow. This is the third arrival of Prigozhin’s plane in Belarus since the so-called “march of justice,” which took place on June 23-24. The previous time, Embraer Legacy 600 arrived in Belarus on July 1.
At 20:05, two helicopters of the Belarusian Air Force, Mi-8 and Mi-24, took off from Machulishchy airfield. According to our information, the helicopters flew to the area of Asipovichy. The Mi-8 helicopter (with passengers on board) landed at 20:32. In turn, the Mi-24 helicopter, which was performing escort functions, returned to Machulishchy airfield immediately after the Mi-8 helicopter approached the point of passengers’ disembarkation, making sure that the passengers had gotten into a car. According to our information, Yevgeny Prigozhin could have been on board the Mi-8 helicopter. It’s possible that he could have been accompanied by the leadership of PMC Wagner.
The presence of Yevgeny Prigozhin on board the Mi-8 may be indicated by the fact that he was escorted by the Mi-24 attack helicopter. We also note that shortly before the arrival of the Embraer Legacy 600 business jet, the Mi-8 helicopter was re-parked to the place next to where Prigozhin’s board stopped. This could mean that the helicopter was waiting for Prigozhin’s arrival. Therefore, his visit to the area of Asipovichy was planned in advance.
The exact location of the Mi-8 helicopter landing with passengers on board is unknown. According to our information, the helicopter landed near Asipovichy. There are the following helipads in the vicinity of the town:
— on the territory of the Yuzhny military town in Asipovichy, where three artillery brigades of the Belarusian Armed Forces are deployed. Coordinates: 53.292703, 28.644169;
— on the territory of the military town of the Asipovichski training ground (Repishcha). Coordinates: 53.295123, 28.540799.
The Mi-8 helicopter most likely landed on the pad at the Asipovichski training ground (Repishcha), since it’s located in a rather secluded place, which should have allowed them to hide Prigozhin’s possible visit from prying eyes.
As noted above, after disembarking from the Mi-8 helicopter, the passengers changed to a car. It should be noted that the distance from the helipad at the Asipovichski training ground (Repishcha) to Tsel village, where the field camp is deployed (as it was initially assumed, for mercenaries of PMC Wagner), is about 25 kilometers.
At 22:20, the Mi-8 helicopter flew back to Machulishchy military airfield, where it landed at 22:43. In total, the helicopter stayed in the Asipovichy area for almost 2 hours.
According to our information, on July 12 at 12:00, the Mi-8 helicopter flew again to the Asipovichy area. We note that it was the same helicopter that flew in the evening of July 11. Nothing is known about passengers on board. At around 13:00, the helicopter took off in the area of the Asipovichski training ground (Repishcha), but didn’t return to Machulishchy airfield.
At 13:20, the Mi-24 helicopter of the Belarusian Air Force flew from Machulishchy airfield to the area of Asipovichy. At 13:45, the helicopter was in the area of Lapichy village (9 kilometers to Tsel village, 25 kilometers to Asipovichy), and was waiting for the Mi-8 helicopter, which was mentioned above. And already at 13:55, the Mi-8 helicopter with passengers flew from Asipovichy in the direction of Machulishchy airfield. The helicopter was escorted by the Mi-24 waiting near Lapichy village. Both helicopters landed at Machulishchy airfield at 14:27 and 14:30, respectively. The Mi-8 helicopter also landed in the area of the plane’s parking spot.
In turn, at 16:52, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s business jet Embraer Legacy 600 (registration number RA-02795) left Belarus for St. Petersburg.
Based on the data on movements of the Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters of the Belarusian Air Force on July 11-12, we may assume that Yevgeny Prigozhin and other passengers of the Mi-8 helicopter were in the Asipovichy area on the night of July 11-12, and didn’t return to Minsk. This is indicated by the fact that the Mi-24 helicopter escorted the Mi-8 with passengers on July 11 (from Machulishchy airfield to Asipovichy) and on July 12 (from Asipovichy to Machulishchy airfield). The absence of the escort helicopter during the return of the Mi-8 to Machulishchy in the evening of July 11, as well as the departure in the morning of July 12, indicates the absence of VIP-passengers on board.
Yevgeny Prigozhin kommersant.ru
This activity is not typical. In general, we may assume that Yevgeny Prigozhin and the leadership of PMC Wagner made an inspection trip to Tsel village, where a large field camp was previously deployed. The possible purpose of the trip was to assess the equipped camp for possible deployment of PMC mercenaries in it. It’s possible that during the visit, other possible places of deployment of mercenaries of PMC Wagner (for example, at the Asipovichski training ground (Repishcha)) could have been inspected.
We should note that on July 7, a representative of the Ministry of Defense of Belarus stated that representatives of PMC Wagner hadn’t arrived to the village to check the possible place of deployment of mercenaries. And on July 11, the Ministry of Defense of Belarus announced the imminent arrival of mercenaries in Belarus.
We should add that on July 12, the commander of the internal troops of Belarus, Nikolai Karpenkov, said that negotiations with PMC Wagner on joint combat training with special purpose units were underway.