MOSCOW: Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, leading a mutiny to bring down Moscow's top brass, said Saturday his fighters captured the army HQ in Russia's Rostov-on-Don "without firing a single shot" and claimed to have the support of locals.
Prigozhin's fighters crossed into Russia from occupied Ukraine overnight and took the army HQ in the southern city, which serves as a key operational hub for Moscow's forces in Ukraine.
"Why does the country support us? Because we went on a march of justice," Prigozhin said in his latest audio message on the Telegram social media platform.
"We got to Rostov. Without a single shot we captured the building of the (army) HQ," he said.
He said the mercenaries "had not touched a single soldier, we did not kill a single person on our way" and claimed his men had been hit by strikes from "artillery and after that from helicopters."
He also claimed to have the support of locals in Rostov.
Prigozhin said that his fighters had removed mines from outside the building Wagner occupied in Rostov.
Earlier, the outspoken chief hit back at President Vladimir Putin, who called Prigozhin a traitor in an address to Russians.
"On treason of the motherland: the president is deeply wrong. We are patriots of our motherland," he said.