A new photo appearing to show Russian General Sergei Surovikin, who has not been seen in public since a brief mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group in June, was published on social media on Monday by a well known Russian media personality.
“General Sergei Surovikin is out. Alive, healthy, at home, with his family, in Moscow. Photo taken today,” Ksenia Sobchak wrote in a caption to the picture on Telegram.
The authenticity of the photo - which showed a man in sunglasses and a cap walking alongside a woman resembling Mr Surovikin’s wife, Anne - has not yet been verified.
A second report, published by prominent independent Russian journalist Alexei Venediktov on his Telegram channel, said: “General Surovikin is at home with his family. He is on leave and available to the Defence Ministry.”
But Mr Venediktov provided no pictorial evidence.
Various media outlets reported that Mr Surovikin had fallen out of favour with the Kremlin following the aborted mutiny by Wagner in June, and that he was being investigated for possible complicity.
State news agency RIA said last month he had been removed as head of the air force and his deputy Viktor Afzalov had assumed the job on a temporary basis.
Mr Surovikin, who gained the nickname “General Armageddon” during Russia’s military intervention in Syria’s civil war, was briefly in charge of Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine before that role was handed in January to General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff.
Mr Surovikin was widely viewed by Russian war commentators as a forceful and capable figure.
The late Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led the June mutiny and died in a private jet crash last month, was fiercely critical of Russia’s defence establishment but spoke highly of Mr Surovikin, calling him “a man who is not afraid of responsibility”.