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Iran reaffirms support for Putin over Wagner rebellion

Iranian foreign ministry says Wagner Group mutiny is an internal matter for Russia
Members of Wagner group sit atop a tank in the city of Rostov-on-Don, on 24 June 2023 (AFP)

Iran has reaffirmed its support for President Vladimir Putin and the "rule of law" in Russia following Saturday's reported rebellion by Wagner Group mercenaries.

Iranian state media quoted foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani as saying the latest developments in Russia were an internal Russian matter.

"Iran supports the rule of law in the Russian Federation," said Kanaani.

On Saturday, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, leading an apparent mutiny to bring down leaders in Moscow, said his fighters had captured the army HQ in Russia's Rostov-on-Don "without firing a single shot" and claimed to have the support of locals. 

Wagner Group fighters crossed overnight into Russia from occupied territories in Ukraine and seized the army HQ in the southern city, a key operational hub for Moscow as it continues to prosecute its war in Ukraine.

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In an audio broadcast on Telegram, Prigozhin said he had the support of the country on his "march of justice".

"We got to Rostov. Without a single shot, we captured the building of the [army] HQ," he said.

Iran has long been a key ally of Russia, with which they allied in supporting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against opposition forces.

One Telegram channel linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Saturday announced its willingness to intervene to protect Putin against a potential overthrow by the Wagner forces.

"If necessary, just as we prevented the fall of Assad, we will prevent the fall of Putin," said the account.

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