Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin?
On September 14, 2022, days after Russian troops were forced to withdraw from Kharkiv due to the Ukrainian counter-offensive, a video of a man talking to prisoners at a Russian prison was released. appear on the Internet. “I am the representative of a private military company. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s called PMC Wagner,” the tall shaven man told the group of prisoners and guards who were standing around him in a semicircle. The video, shot with a low-quality mobile camera, was released by the team of Alexei Navalny, a jailed opposition leader. The man in the video is Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian tycoon with close ties to the Kremlin. His mission: recruit prisoners for Wagner to fight in Ukraine.
Explanation | Russia withdraws troops from Kherson
In the video, he says that if the prisoners, aged between 22 and 50, agree to join Wagner, he will release them after six months of service or be buried as a hero if they die in battle. war. “Do you have anyone who can get you out of prison,” he asked the prisoners. “There are two others who can – Allah and God – but they just take you out in a wooden box. I can get you out of here alive.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Prigozhin was one of the most powerful men in the country. He received the blessing of the Kremlin. He recruited prisoners and his troops played a key role in seizing several parts of Ukraine, including Bakhmut, the only significant territory Russia won this year. However, Prigozhin disagreed with the Russian elite. Earlier this year, he said that the war in which the Russians suffered heavy losses could be avoided. He called the leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry corrupt and incompetent. The crisis in the Russian military complex erupted into an unprecedented rebellion on June 23-24 when Wagner troops marched toward Moscow and shot down Russian helicopters. After that he. Putin reached an agreement with Prigozhin to avoid bloodshed. Exactly 18 months after the war began, Prigozhin is now dead. According to Russian authorities, he was killed in a plane crash northwest of Moscow.
Hot dog seller in St. Petersburg
Prigozhin’s rise and fall are associated with him. Putin.
Born in 1961 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), the former capital of the tsar, Prigozhin grew up in Khrushchev’s Soviet Union. When he was young, he was arrested for robbery. According to court papers published by Russian media MedusaPrigozhin and his accomplices attacked a woman in March 1980 in St. Petersburg, took her gold earrings and left her unconscious in the street. There are other similar incidents reported. He was convicted and imprisoned in 1981 in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union. When it was released in 1990, the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, was on a hospital bed.
Prigozhin began a new life, like post-Soviet Russia, selling hot dogs in St. Petersburg. In the following years, he gradually expanded his business to supermarkets and restaurants. In the mid-1990s, he opened the Old Customs House (Staraya Tamozhnya), on the Vasilevsky Island of St. Petersburg. It will soon become one of the best and most sought-after places to eat in the city. Influencers, including celebrities, billionaires and politicians, often visit the restaurant. One of them was Anatoly Sobchak, Mayor of St. Petersburg. Sometimes, Sobchak’s young deputy accompanied him to the cafeteria – a former KGB agent who was just starting to build a political career, named Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
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The relationship between him. Putin and Prigozhin, perhaps formed in one of those meetings, will flourish in the years to come. Towards the end of the 1990s, Mr. Putin will become Prime Minister of President Boris Yeltsin and then his successor. With him. Putin in the Kremlin, Prigozhin will continue to win lucrative government catering contracts. His business began to boom, so did his influence. To gauge his growing influence, he is occasionally seen with President Putin and global leaders. He is accompanied by Mr. Putin while visiting the UK in 2003 and appeared in a photo with Mr. Putin. Putin and Prince Charles (now King of England). When he. Putin hosted George W. Bush in 2006 within the framework of the G8 Summit, which can see Prigozhin serving the American leader. In a photo released by the Kremlin in 2015, Prigozhin can be seen serving food to Mr. Trump. Putin, Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This proximity to Mr. Putin and his ever-expanding food service business have earned him the nickname “Putin’s Chef”.
Prigozhin’s transition from an influential Kremlin contractor to a key player in Russia’s security complex began in 2014, the year Russia annexed Crimea and began supporting separatists in Donetsk. and Luhansk during the civil war in eastern Ukraine. Wagner was founded the same year by Dmitry Utkin, a former Lieutenant Colonel of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. (Utkin is also believed to have died in the plane crash.) Prigozhin emerged as the main sponsor of the group. According to one account, he approached the Ministry of Defense in 2014, looking for land to train “volunteers”. Ministry officials were not satisfied with his request. He then told them, “Command from Dad,” referring to Mr. Putin.
He got what he wanted and Wagner will train thousands of private soldiers who will be deployed to Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Initially, the Kremlin denied sending troops to Ukraine – which is technically correct since Wagner is not officially part of Russia’s defense forces. But there are “little green men” all over Ukraine’s Donbas. Within a few years, Wagner had become an all-powerful mercenary entity. Grandfather. Critics of Putin see Prigozhin as one of their formidable opponents. According to Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s close aide, Prigozhin is “the most dangerous criminal in Putin’s entourage”. An August 2020 Belling Cat investigation suggested that Prigozhin’s business ventures – government contracts, Wagner and troll farms – had close links to the Kremlin. Robert Muller, the Special Counsel who investigated alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, indicted the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, with ties to Prigozhin, for having conducted an online campaign to discredit Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. He is also wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for “conspiracy to defraud the United States.” In 2021, the FBI announced a reward of up to “$250,000 for information leading to the arrest” of Prigozhin.
As Russia adopted a more aggressive foreign policy, expanding its strategic footprint in West Asia and Africa, Wagner came in handy for the Kremlin – it was able to send troops to these regions with the potential to be denied access. legitimately received. In 2015, Mr. Putin has sent troops to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the civil war. Wagner soldiers have fought alongside the Syrian army, Hezbollah and other Shia paramilitary forces against the regime’s opponents. They were also sent to Mali, Libya, Mozambique and the Central African Republic. As Wagner became an integral part of the Kremlin’s foreign security approach, Prigozhin’s prestige grew among the fortified elite in Moscow. But his defeat came faster.
The irony is that the very war in Ukraine, which initially made him one of the most important figures in Russia, also marked the end of his stature. When the Russian military performed poorly in the war, Prigozhin publicly criticized the defense establishment and demanded the dismissal of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. Grandfather. Putin seems to have endured the tension at first, but he will not publicly endorse a private military company owner over his defense establishment. That’s where Prigozhin went wrong. Grandfather. Putin’s decision in January to replace the general. Sergey Surovikin, who is close to Wagner and Prigozhin, along with Gen. Gerasimov, whom Prigozhin wants to fire, as commander of operations in Ukraine, is a clear signal of the Kremlin’s position on the matter. But Prigozhin continued to attack the defenders. When the Ministry of Defense together with Mr. With Putin’s blessing, he switched to integrating Wagner into the Russian regular army, and soon after Bakhmut was captured, Prigozhin launched a mutiny. His fate was decided that day.
Wagner’s rebellion exposed the weak side of Mr. Trump. Putin regime. His power is challenged in the streets with weapons at a time when his troops are fighting a protracted war against Ukraine’s Western-backed forces. It’s a double challenge. August 23, exactly two months since the Wagner mutiny, saw dramatic developments in Russia. In the morning, the Ministry of Defense announced that General. Surovkin, who had been missing since the mutiny, was fired. Later that day, the plane carrying Prigozhin and believed to be Utkin crashed, killing all passengers. These developments strengthen Mr. Putin’s position, at least in domestic politics.
Explanation | Understanding the Wagner Uprising