Unverified photographs began circulating on social media Thursday suggesting that Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the Russian mercenary boss who led a short-lived mutiny in June, was meeting with African officials in St. Petersburg, where some of the continent’s top leaders have converged for a summit with President Vladimir V. Putin.
The whereabouts and status of Mr. Prigozhin, a caterer-turned-warlord, have been the subject of continuing questions since he tried to topple the Russian defense leadership last month, posing the biggest security threat to Mr. Putin’s government in decades.
Questions also have persisted about what will become of Mr. Prigozhin’s operations in Africa, where his Wagner forces are active in a number of countries, including the Central African Republic and Mali.
The unverified images suggested not only that Mr. Prigozhin was moving freely in Russia but that he had access to figures attending a major diplomatic event, suggesting the Kremlin may be endeavoring to harness his contacts and political good will in Africa despite the mutiny.
The first photo that appeared to connect Mr. Prigozhin to the summit surfaced on a Facebook account registered in the name of Dmitri Sytyi, a Russian national whom the U.S. Treasury has sanctioned and described as an employee of Mr. Prigozhin in the Central African Republic. Neither the account nor the photograph could be independently verified.
The photograph shows Mr. Prigozhin shaking hands with a man described in media reports as a top official from the Central African Republic. They are standing beside what appeared to be an elevator in the Trezzini Palace, a luxury hotel in St. Petersburg long associated with Mr. Prigozhin.
The hotel is about 40 minutes by car from the conference venue for the Russia-Africa summit, suggesting that Mr. Prigozhin may have been meeting with attendees one-on-one outside the confines of the event rather than attending it. In the photograph, the African official appears to be wearing the multicolored lanyard from the summit.
Another photograph appeared on a Telegram channel associated with Wagner later in the day, showing Mr. Prigozhin dressed in the same white button-down shirt and bluejeans, meeting with an executive from an African media conglomerate known for espousing pro-Kremlin views.
The location of the meeting was unknown. In the image, Mr. Prigozhin is standing in front of a large map of Africa. A Telegram channel associated with Wagner described the photo as a meeting with the director of Afrique Média, a television channel based in Cameroon that has a partnership with the Russian state television network RT.
Afrique Média did not respond to a request for comment.
A video appeared on Russian social media last week that apparently showed Mr. Prigozhin addressing his Wagner forces in Belarus, where the Kremlin said the mercenary boss would be moving as part of a deal he struck with Mr. Putin to stop the mutiny.
In the days since then, however, Mr. Prigozhin has been spotted in Russia, raising questions about whether he indeed will retreat into an agreed-upon exile in Belarus, the neighboring nation closely allied with Moscow.