RUSSIAN rebel leader Yevgeny Prigozhin suffered more humiliation yesterday as pictures were leaked of him in his pants.
Vladimir Putin is believed to have masterminded a campaign to embarrass the Wagner boss – whose troops marched to within 120 miles of Moscow in an aborted coup.
It began last week as pictures showed the bald and permanently angry warlord sporting an array of wigs, thick-rimmed glasses and fake beards after his home was raided.
But another picture appeared online Thursday showing the 62-year-old in firebrand sitting on a squalid camp bed in his pants – as rumours swirled that he had since been jailed or killed.
Prigozhin is seen wearing a white t-shirt and little else as he raises a hand to the photographer in the picture – which appears to have been circulated to crush his hardman image and make it seem as if he is alive and well.
But doubts around the exact date of the photo have arisen online after Noel Reports wrote that “Metadata from the original picture reportedly state that this picture is made on the 12th of June early in the morning.”
Vladimir Putin told Thursday how he was defied at a showdown meeting with rebel warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin – who experts now believe “will never be seen again.”
Weakened Putin offered 35 of Prigozhin’s Wagner army chiefs a deal to carry on fighting under a different commander.
But Prigozhin dared to reject the offer prompting Putin to announce: “Wagner does not exist.”
And no trace of the bald convict army commander has been seen since – amid reports that he may already be dead or in jail.
Putin recounted detail of the meeting – five days after the 36-hour revolt last month – in a Russian daily newspaper on Thursday.
He said he made several offers – including giving the group the opportunity to fight together under Wagner commander Andrei “Grey Hair” Trochev.
Putin told Russian daily newspaper Kommersant: “All of them could have gathered in one place and continued their service and nothing would have changed.
“They would have been led by the same person who had been their real commander all that time.
“Many of them nodded when I said this.
“Prigozhin said after listening: ‘No, the boys won’t agree with such a decision’.”
Putin added: “Wagner does not exist. There is no law on private military organisations. It just doesn’t exist.”
US Pentagon chiefs now believe Wagner forces are now longer involved in the war in Ukraine – dealing a severe blow to Putin’s collapsing campaign.
Prigozhin, 62, has not been seen in public since the day of his 36-hour mutiny which ended on June 24.
Retired General Robert Abrams, who previously served as the commander of US Forces in Korea, said: “I think he’ll either be put in hiding or sent to prison or dealt with some other way, but I doubt we’ll ever see him again.”
Asked whether he thought he was alive, General Abrams added: “I personally don’t think he is, and if he is, he’s in a prison somewhere.”
US President Joe Biden quipped that the mercenary chief could be poisoned as theories swirled over his fate.
Biden said: “If I were he, I’d be careful what I ate. I’d be keeping my eye on my menu.
“But all kidding aside, who knows? I don’t know. I don’t think any of us know for sure what the future of Prigozhin is in Russia.”
Powerful former Putin pal Prigozhin has vanished after spending months aiming crude expletives at Russia’s top Ukraine commanders over their disastrous campaign.
Kremlin insiders have since claimed he underwent “years of intensive therapy” for stomach cancer and had “nothing to lose” when he launched his coup.