On Tuesday morning, several buildings in Moscow were attacked by a drone. In the aftermath of the attack, Yevgeny Prigozhin came out strong.
“You nasty creeps, what are you doing? You are insects!”
Unlike other Russian leaders, it was not the Ukrainians who were chosen by the Wagner leader. Prigozhin’s anger was directed at his countrymen.
“Come off the offices where you have been placed to defend this country. You haven’t done anything to advance. Why the hell are you letting these drones fly into Moscow?” cable.
Such statements can have dire consequences, believes Russian researcher Iver B. Newman.
– I think Prigozhin is now living very dangerously. In the past, it was convenient for Putin to have such a rabid nationalist around him, but now Prigozhin goes so far that the question is whether it is beneficial for him to be such a “bluffer” in deliberation.
It can be taken for several days
This is not the first time that the man known as “Putin’s chef” has criticized the Russian military leadership. But after his mercenary army scored a Pyrrhic victory at the ruins of Bakhmut in May, the speeches of the Wagner leader became more frequent.
In the past, the Ministry of Defense alone has been the target of Prigozhin’s abuses. But recently he also dared to criticize the president himself, according to the celebrity ISW think tank.
National hawk Igor Girkin claims that the Wagner leader wants to overthrow the Putin regime, which Prigozhin himself has done. to reject. There is no doubt that many people are hungry for Putin’s position, Newman says.
– The battle to become the new leader of Russia is already underway. Putin is 70 years old, and the war is going badly. And we know from past experience that when war goes wrong, knives are sharpened behind the leader’s back.
But the Russian expert says that Machiavellian intrigue is not Prigozhin’s business.
– This fight is really taking place in the back room, but Prigozhin chooses a different strategy by drawing up a line of direct action. It is a very dangerous game. Either he wins it all, or he loses it all.
According to Newman, such statements could cost him dearly.
Prigozhin is now going so far as to challenge Putin. He wants to become the new leader of Russia, but he may end up being removed from office. I think it will come out in a completely different way, but we’ll see.
You don’t want to be humiliated
Most others in Prigozhin’s position would have already faced dire consequences if they had spoken out like Boss Wagner, says Jakob Gudzimirski of NUPI.
– People have been sentenced to ten or twenty years in prison for softer statements about the war, while Prigozhin obviously gave free rein to speak in this way.
One reason he had so much leeway might be that Wagner’s director delivered results, despite the heavy losses.
– In Russia, they speak of Prigozhin with a mixture of horror and excitement. It works in a very brutal way, but it also delivers results, unlike the traditional Russian forces.
But he says there are limits to what the Russian leader will accept.
– We do not know where Putin’s sore threshold lies. The criticism can be interpreted in two ways: Either Putin is so weak that he can’t do anything about it, or he feels so strongly that he thinks he can stand this kind of statement.
Vladimir Putin is not a man who likes to be humiliated, says Gudzimirski.
– We know that Putin is a vindictive man, and he has tried to get rid of his critics many times, by all means. It cannot be ruled out that at some point Prigozhin will be perceived more as a burden than as a supporter.
Fridtjof Nansen Institute Director Iver B. Newman, Prigozhin’s formulation is well known to those who have followed the lessons of history.
One of the things we learned from fascism in the interwar period is that calling people “pests” dehumanizes them and makes them ready for slaughter. But Prigozhin, who made the slaughter of people his livelihood, is probably not so keen on this.
He believes that Prigozhin is also trying to appear as a real savage, like the Russian leader.
– As far as I can see, this is just a pretense to project himself as the savior of the motherland. It takes Putin’s “action man persona,” blows it up, and makes it more forceful and direct.
In the post, Prigozhin came out harshly against residents of Rublyovka, a district of Moscow known to be home to the city’s upper class. Newman believes there is a reason Wagner’s manager chooses to hang out with the elite.
Attacking the elite is also a classic fascist trait and recalls the so-called “dagger legend” from Germany. The Claimed State might have done well during World War I, were it not for those upper-class boys who were more interested in frolicking with their classmates in Western countries than fighting them.
Thus, hawks in Russia could use the elite as a scapegoat, according to Newman.
– And this is not just Prigozhin. The entire ultra-nationalist side in Russia perpetuates and perpetuates this myth that if the war goes badly for Russia, it is because these elite “puppies” are not up to the task.
He says such rhetoric could have disastrous consequences for war.
– This is very dangerous, because it may mean that Russia will not only not learn anything from the military defeat they have now suffered, but can use it for revenge and for military construction, just as Germany did in the period between the two world wars. This is simply terrifying.
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