Ruthless Russian commander Anton Yelizarov, 42, dubbed “Lotus” has been chosen to take over control of the Wagner Group following the death of the mercenary group’s former leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Yelizarov was rumoured to be taking over Wagner in recent days after the fatal plane crash on August 23 claimed the lives of Prigozhin and nine others.
Wagner’s new chief is said to have been involved in some of the fiercest fighting in the war in Ukraine and played a leading role in Russia’s bloody capture of the town of Soledar in Eastern Ukraine.
Yelizarov’s exploits earned him the title “conqueror of Soledar” from Prigozhin.
The former leader of Wagner is said to have been close to “Lotus” with the latter characterised as a Prigozhin loyalist within the organisation.
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On Wednesday, Yelizarov made a statement on Telegram appearing to confirm his elevation to the head of the Wagner Group.
The statement attributed to the commander read: “At night, the Armed Forces of Ukraine believed in themselves, they are no longer using drones, either crests or idiots will endure such impudent military aggression.
“PMC WAGNER from today is sent to the front under my leadership. Suppress the confidence in the pigs, look at what is happening with me.”
On Sunday, Russia’s investigating committee confirmed that Prigozhin was among those killed in a crash last Wednesday.
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According to the committee’s statement, after forensic testing, all 10 bodies recovered from the crash site have been identified, and their identities match the passenger list provided.
Yelizarov is reported to have joined Wagner in 2016 following a conviction for fraud according to the open-source intelligence group Molfar.
Besides fighting in Ukraine “Lotus” also surfaced in Syria and the Central African Republic.
Yelizarov is reported to have become bored in the city of Zernograd situated in the Rostov Region.
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In 2003, he graduated from the Ryazan Guards Higher Airborne School and began his military service within the South Eastern District.
He later joined the Guards Airborne Assault Division based in Novorossiysk, where he rose throw the ranks.
Yelizarov later served with the 10th Separate Special Forces Brigade of the GRU, a Russian military intelligence, and likely participated in military campaigns in the North Caucasus region.
Fraud allegations surfaced when Yelizarov was an army officer and, he was given a two-room flat to live in with his wife and daughter for the duration of his service.
He applied to the court using forged documents claiming Yelizarov’s enrolment at the command of the forces with early military discharge on favourable grounds.
In his statement of claim, he requested that his and his family members’ rights to joint shared ownership of the flat be recognised through free privatisation.
Following an investigation, he was condemned to a three-year suspended sentence and fined 100,000 rubles in 2014 for illegally profiting from his service property.
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