The mayor of Rivne was finally removed from office for a year

The mayor is deprived of the right to hold office for a year / photo from Alexander Tretiak's Facebook page

The mayor lost the appeal.

The Rivne Court of Appeal rejected the complaint of the mayor of the city of Rivne, Alexander Tretyak, regarding his removal from office for a year. A video of the judge reading out the relevant decision was posted today on the Mayor's Facebook page.

Tretiak appealed the decision of the Rivne City Court, which found him guilty of a corruption offense punishable by a fine of UAH 6.8 thousand and removal from office for a year.

"Tretiak's appeal should be left without satisfaction, the decision of the Rivne City Court should be left unchanged. It comes into force from the moment it is issued, is final, and not subject to appeal," the judge announced the decision.

Removal of the mayor of Rivne: the background

The National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption drew up three protocols on the mayor of Rivne, Alexander Tretyak, in which they saw a conflict of interest: regarding the return of bonuses to themselves, voting for the appointment of the manager of the executive committee and assigning her bonuses and allowances.

The first two protocols were closed due to the lack of evidence of a violation and due to the statute of limitations. The last case concerns the accrual of bonuses and additional payments to Maria Korniychuk, manager of the executive committee of the city, who, during the election campaign, contributed 45 thousand hryvnias to the Tretyak candidate fund. Despite the mayor's objections, the NAPC sees this as a conflict of interest.

On July 10, the Rivne city court found the mayor of Rivne guilty of a corruption offense and removed him from office for a year. He was also fined UAH 6.8 thousand.

Lukashenko says Wagner Group will stay in Belarus

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko denied reports of Wagner mercenaries leaving Belarus following the reported death of the group’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, according to the state-controlled news agency Belta.

"Wagner lived, Wagner lives, and Wagner will live in Belarus, no matter if some don't want this. Prigozhin and I had built a system for how Wagner would be deployed in our country,” Lukashenko told a press conference on Aug. 25, cited by Belta.

His statement comes a day after ​​Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Belarusian service published satellite images showing that a camp for Wagner Group fighters in Belarus' village of Tsel was being actively dismantled.

“Why do we remove extra tents - we don't need so many. The core (of Wagner contingent in Belarus) remains here, someone went on vacation, someone decided to live apart altogether,” claimed Lukashenko, commenting on the RFE/RL report.

Within a few days, everyone will be here, up to 10,000 people. There is currently no need to keep them here. They are not running away."

Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service has also said that the number of Wagner Group mercenaries stationed in Belarus is gradually decreasing. Wagner forces had started to leave in "not significant" numbers even before the plane crash reportedly killing Prigozhin, after which the departure became more apparent, according to the Service’s spokesperson.

Prigozhin and other senior Wagner leaders were listed as passengers of the private Embraer Legacy plane that crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino in Russias Tver Oblast on Aug. 23. All ten people on board died in the crash.

On Aug. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Prigoshin’s death. The likely cause of the crash was a bomb onboard or "some other form of sabotage," according to unnamed U.S. officials cited by the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 24.

Ukraine's National Resistance Center reported one day after the Embraer Legacy plane crash that Wagner convoys are on their way from Belarus to Russia.

In June, the mercenary leader launched a short-lived rebellion against the Kremlin, capturing the city of Rostov and marching toward Moscow before abruptly ending the insurrection less than 24 after it began.

Following an undisclosed deal allegedly brokered by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, Wagner mercenaries were allowed to leave for Belarus. Camps for the mercenaries were set up in the country as they started providing training to the Belarusian military.

At the Aug. 25 press conference, Lukashenko claimed he hadn't given Prigozhin any security guarantees after the failed mutiny attempt, Belta reported.

"First,, I was not supposed to ensure Prigozhin's safety. Second, our conversation never went into it," the Belarusian dictator said.

Pentagon: Wagner 'no longer a factor on the battlefield in Ukraine'

The combat effectiveness of the Wagner Group is no longer a factor in Russia's war against Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson General Pat Ryder said during a press briefing on Aug. 24 in response to a question about the presumed death of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash.

Following Wagner's short-lived rebellion against the Kremlin in June, Ryder said that the Wagner Group was no longer taking part in the war in Ukraine, but according to Ukraine's military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov, some Wagner forces had remained in southern Ukraine and eastern Luhansk Oblast.

The U.S. official noted that Prigozhin's mercenaries had been the "most effective combat force on the battlefield" in Ukraine. Wagner fighters played a crucial role in the protracted siege of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, which ended in Russia's capture of the city in late May.

Regarding Prigozhin's death, Ryder stressed that despite the media's focus on the mercenary boss's apparent demise, Wagner remains the real threat, as it is "an international criminal organization, and has conducted horrific acts, both on the battlefield and elsewhere."

Following an undisclosed deal between the Russian authorities and Prigozhin after the rebellion, some of the mercenaries reportedly left for Belarus to provide training support to the Belarusian military, or to various countries in Africa where Prigozhin had engaged in a number of illicit activities.

Ryder said that Wagner's future role in African countries remains unclear, adding that the group has been involved in military or criminal operations in places like Burkina Faso and Mali.

"I don't think anybody's going to discount the potential for danger when it comes to that group or the remnants of that group," he added.

As for Belarus, some Wagner fighters reportedly began leaving the country due to low pay. Their exit has been further expedited by the recent report of Prigozhin and other Wagner leaders' deaths in a plane crash in Russia's Tver Oblast.