Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation after Yevgeny Prigozhin called for armed rebellion and reached the southern city of Rostov-on-Don with his troops. Image Credit: AP

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed a law permitting 30-day detentions for breaking martial law in places where it has been imposed, the RIA news agency reported.

Putin earlier denounced as “treason” a rebellion by forces loyal to the powerful head of the Wagner mercenary group and threatened “harsh” punishment.

“What we are facing is precisely treachery,” Putin said in a televised address. “Excessive ambitions and personal interests led to treason, to treason to their country and their people and to the cause for which Wagner fighters and commanders fought and died side by side with our other units and divisions.”

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Those who “organized and prepared a military mutiny, who took up arms against their comrades, betrayed Russia and will answer for it,” Putin said. “This is a blow to Russia, to our people, and our actions to protect the Fatherland from such a threat will be harsh.”

Meanwhile, strongman leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, announced Saturday he had sent Chechen units to “zones of tension” in Russia, after Wagner mercenaries launched a mutiny in the country.

“Defence ministry and National Guard fighters of the Chechen Republic have already left for the zones of tension,” Kadyrov, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said on Telegram. “The rebellion must be put down, and if harsh measures are necessary, we are ready!”

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, leading a mutiny to bring down Moscow’s top brass, said 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 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.