Wigs, stuffed alligators and gold bars: A glimpse inside the palace of Wagner's Yevgeny Prigozhin

Russian security services claim they raided Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin's home. Credit: AP/Izvestia

By Lottie Kilraine, Multimedia Producer

Russian security services have said they raided the St Petersburg palace of Yevgeny Prigozhin, as speculation continues over the Wagner chief's whereabouts.

The FSB said it found guns, ammunition, gold bars, a stuffed alligator and a cupboard full of wigs at the residence of the mercenary leader, who was forced to abandon his home after his aborted coup attempt last month.

Pro-Kremlin online newspaper Izvestia posted a series of videos and photos from inside what it said was Prigozhin's mansion. Items captured included stacks of cash in multiple currencies and a jacket covered in medals - including one of the country’s highest awards, the Hero of Russia medal.

The Russian Secret Service said it raided Yevgeny Prigozhin's home. Credit: Izvestia

In one published image, an oversized souvenir sledgehammer could be seen with the inscription “for important negotiations”.

The sledgehammer has become a symbol of the Wagner Group after reports its troops used the tool to beat defectors to death.

Another image showed a framed photo, alleged to have been found hanging in Prigozhin's home, that showed a lineup of decapitated heads - thought to be 'the heads of his enemies'.

A sledgehammer with the inscription 'for important negotiations' was allegedly found in the mansion. Credit: Izvestia

Local media reported that one of the cabinets in the house was stuffed with wigs of different colours, while a fake beard and mustache was found in another.

Also published was a collection of selfies that showed the mercenary boss posing whilst wearing fake facial hair and foreign uniforms - an apparent reflection of Wagner’s deployments to Syria and several African countries.

Fake passports, including one in Prigozhin's name but with someone else's ID photograph, were also found, according to the reports.

A cupboard full of wigs found at the residence the Wagner mercenary leader. Credit: Izvestia

Pictures of the interior of the lavish home showed a grand piano at the base of a spiral marble staircase, as well as a spa and sauna area, and a private indoor swimming pool.

There was also what appeared to be a private prayer room, that had been decorated with images of religious icons from the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russia's media have attempted to discredit Prigozhin by showing pictures of what they say is his mansion, ITV News' Senior International Correspondent John Irvine reports

Huge amounts of cash in various currencies, including what looked like stacks of bank notes inside briefcases, were also discovered at the residence, the FSB said.

Russian media reported that there were "at least $500,000 in tight packs folded into a regular bag" and "euro banknotes were packed separately".

There were "about 5kg of gold bars" also found, according to Izvestia.

Pictures of the interior of his lavish home showed a private indoor swimming pool. Credit: Izvestia

It comes as the president of Belarus said on Thursday that the mercenary leader is now back in Russia and his troops are in their field camps.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s claim could not be independently verified, and the Kremlin refused to comment on Prigozhin’s whereabouts.

But Russian media has reported he was recently seen at his offices in St Petersburg, and could also travel to Moscow, if he wishes.

The FSB claims it found guns, ammunition, gold bars and stacks of money in the mansion. Credit: Izvestia

There has been speculation in recent weeks regarding the Wagner chief's whereabouts, with the mercenary leader not being seen in public since the failed mutiny.

Thursday's announcement has raised new questions about what this could mean for the deal brokered by long-term Putin ally Lukashenko, that had allowed Prigozhin to move to Belarus in exchange for ending his rebellion, with a promise of amnesty for him and his troops.

Lukashenko said that the Wagner leader has been given back the cash and weapons that were confiscated by Russian authorities in the wake of the rebellion.

Asked where Prigozhin is, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov shrugged off the question, saying that the Kremlin has neither the desire nor the means to track his movements - but reaffirmed that the deal that ended the mutiny had been behind his move to Belarus.

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