Espreso. Global

Is Prigozhin really dead and why does Putin need this?

25 August, 2023 Friday

The decade-long era of the Wagner PMC star has faded and slipped over the horizon. The story of the mercenaries who seized gold deposits in Africa, fought in Syria, and spent the whole winter staging a new Verdun near Ukraine’s Bakhmut ended quite predictably


Putin could not tolerate the emergence of a charismatic and effective competitor for real power in Russia, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and probably removed him. Why probably - Prigozhin is an old acquaintance of Putin's since his youth in St. Petersburg. He is also his wallet for non-labor income in Africa. He is also a person who, from a military point of view, built an entire army corps from scratch during the fighting, which had greater combat capability than any corps of the professional Russian army.

It was the recruitment of convicts to the front by Prigozhin personally last fall that allowed Russian to somewhat dampen the devastating effect of the brilliant Kharkiv operation and then the liberation of Kherson. This raised the morale of the Russians to a new level, and it instilled fear in the Ukrainians. Therefore, the bet was quite competent. Not to mention that Prigozhin's thugs, despite the memes on the Internet, proved to be quite skillful on the battlefield, and killed many of the best of our army.

"However, Prigozhin's personal popularity grew. His emotional videos about "Gerasimov, Shoigu, where are the shells?" were watched by Ukrainians in large numbers. And the Kremlin quickly realized that Prigozhin, with his aura of an atypical commander, manager, and man with a difficult past who succeeded, fit very well with the deepest desires of Russians. In this way, it is possible to play up to the point where Prigozhin, and not the artificially cultivated Navalny and Khodorkovsky, will be the real opposition to Putin."

Why is it correct to say that Prigozhin probably died? We are unlikely to be shown the medical records of the corpses from his plane. The term "probably killed" is used by Western intelligence agencies. Finally, there are no guarantees that Prigozhin died as agreed purely socially, and that he will physically improve his appearance and settle in the CAR as planned.

The social death of a longtime partner in large-scale murders, black money and war crimes in Ukraine could have been the price for longstanding loyalty and for the gold of Africa.

Speaking of gold... If you read Russian sources, the Russians themselves write that for several weeks in a row, an IL-76 cargo plane of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations with the tail number RA-76845 has been making regular flights to Mali. They flew there on special flights as many as 10 times. The question is, how much gold and diamonds were transported to Putin's residence by the Wagner PMC?

Very soon we will see an elaborate funeral with coffins that will say that Prigozhin and his close associate Utkin are lying there. It doesn't matter who is lying there - politically, one enemy of Ukraine has been destroyed. And removed from the processes of war in Ukraine.

"Is it useful for us? Of course it is. In matters of war, there should be a healthy, easy competition between generals and managers. Prigozhin's appearance on the scene last year highlighted the cracks in the Russian army system. He showed those who want power and money in Russia itself where the weak points of the Russian concentration camp are."

And the bright summer putsch proved to many that the one in the bunker does not always have all the power - just go and take it. Even Rostov in three days, even Moscow.

What is the benefit of this story for us? Prigozhin's death, whether imagined or real, lifted Ukrainians' spirits on Independence Day. Probably, many people received moral satisfaction from the fact that one monster joined the audience at Kobzon's concert. 

"However, this will not change the front lines in Ukraine’s favor. It will not resurrect those who were killed by the Wagner Group on the battlefield or in their own houses under occupation. It will also not bring back thousands of Ukrainian children, from whom the junior army is already training new machines for future wars with Ukraine."

However, Putin decided to lock the army into Shoigu. And he preferred an unambitious partner in walks in the taiga. This is not the collapse of the Russian army, but a sign of deep decay. And in the long run, it plays into our hands.

As for the Wagner PMC, this rather adventurous story can be considered closed. Some of the Wagner members will join the Russian army on a general basis, and those who disagree will face death, oblivion, and tamped graves.

It will be difficult for all other Prigozhin's henchmen to find a quality manager and owner. After all, the entire success of the Wagner fighters for 10 years was based on the figure of Prigozhin, who was active, daring, and extremely cruel.

Between the fairly good management of a killing machine and personal enrichment, Putin chose gold and diamonds. It's hard to say how they will help him maintain power under the siege of Western sanctions. However, Putin has set a goal of retaining sole power for another 5 years - and he is repeating in detail the path of his idol Stalin.

But one March morning, this did not save the original Stalin, and his corpse was found in a puddle of urine.

Specially for Espreso

About the author: Maryna Danyliuk-Yarmolaieva, journalist.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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