Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that the mutinous chief of Russia's Wagner group was still in Russia with thousands of fighters, but dismissed speculation that President Vladimir Putin would have Yevgeny Prigozhin killed.

Lukashenko helped broker a deal to end last month's mutiny, the gravest challenge to Putin in his 23 years in power, under which Prigozhin was supposed to stand down his mercenaries and move to Belarus in exchange for Putin dropping charges.

But in comments that raised questions about the deal, Lukashenko said Prigozhin and his fighters were still in Russia, and that it was possible they would not move to Belarus.