In a shocking statement eve US midterm elections, Yevgeny PrigozhinFounder Vladimir Putin’s private armyTalk about Russia’s relationship with American democracy. “Gentlemen, we have intervened, we are interfering, and we will intervene,” he said.
This was just the latest sign of how the restaurant chief-turned-warlord known as “Putin’s chef” has become one of Russia’s most powerful voices, and has a say in how Moscow Deals with everything from stumbling The war in Ukraine strong opponents in Washington.
But it’s not just Russia’s foreign opponents who should worry about Prigozhin – officials at home are not immune to his attacks either. Last week, Prigozhin accused the governor of Saint Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, of corruption.
Prigozhin Company, Concord, published His appeal to the Prosecutor General of Russia, demanding an investigation into “the possible involvement of Governor Beglov in the creation of an organized criminal group on the territory of St. Petersburg in order to plunder the state budget and enrich the corrupt officials who are part of his circle.”
This is an unprecedented situation in modern Russia. “Prigozhin’s pursuit of Governor Beglov is a sign that the species in power are beginning to eat each other in a Darwinian way,” Saint Petersburg deputy Boris Vishnevsky told The Daily Beast. “Putin’s men are running out of resources”.
It is now up to the prosecutor to decide whether to investigate Beglov or ignore Prigozhin’s request by transferring him to a different law enforcement agency, Alexander Cherkasov, head of the Nobel Prize-winning human rights organization Memorial, told The Daily Beast. .
Meanwhile, Prigozhin himself appears immune to such accountability.
“When Memorial submitted our request to investigate a violent murder perpetrated by Prigozhin’s men in Syria, the authorities simply ignored it,” Cherkasov told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “We had a video for investigators showing how the militia beat the person to death and then burned the body, but our video was not enough evidence for the investigators.”
Prigozhin has been regularly attacking senior Russian officials in recent weeks, criticizing the Russian military for its mishandling of the war in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, his soldiers are building a “Wagner Line” of fortifications near the border with Ukraine, which is now controlled by the Russian Federal Security Service.
Last month, RIA FAN, one of the news sites linked To Prigozhin, mentioned “Some problems” with the local authorities who were trying to stop the construction of fortifications in the Belgorod region. Then the governor of Belgorod himself, Vyacheslav Gladkov, went so far as to ensure the continuation of the construction work himself.
“It seems that everything is allowed for Prigozhin these days, he can even arm local men in the Belgorod or Kirov region,” Olga Bychkova, a longtime observer of Kremlin policies, told The Daily Beast. “But this is a very dangerous situation: today Prigozhin criticizes local governments, local arms, and tomorrow no one who believes that he is in control of the situation in Russia will be able to control it.”
“No one will dare to stop this criminal. He is a brutal leader.“
Just as his catering company is trusted to keep feeding Putin’s extremist, paranoid regime, Prigozhin appears to have been released into Russian politics, foreign policy, and the war in Ukraine. In another dangerous development, Wagner captain who judge him Recently filmed as 12 years in prison in the 1980s for robbery, fraud and assault, she recruits thousands of prisoners around Russia’s correctional labor colonies and prisons, and promises prisoners freedom in exchange for fighting in Ukraine.
Gabidulin said he did not enjoy working under Prigozhin during his time with Wagner. “His Wagner kit shouldn’t exist, it’s criminal and he doesn’t spend a lot of his money on it,” Gabidolin told The Daily Beast in a recent interview. “He sends untrained soldiers, including criminals, to die in carnage at the front.”
As long as Prigozhin is loyal to Putin, no one will dare to stop this criminal. “He’s a brutal leader,” Gabidulin added.
Some experts who spoke to The Daily Beast even suggested that Prigozhin was trying to take over Putin’s presidential seat. “Prigozhin’s catering company feeds Putin and his men, so he has a huge network of agents in the Kremlin, they always give data about where the wind blows, what Putin hates. Prigozhin does not miss any of Putin’s signals,” Vasily Gatov, one of the world’s leading Kremlin scientists, told the Daily Beast. .
During Russian operations in Ukraine, Syria and Africa over the past eight years, 61-year-old Prigozhin appears to have gone to great lengths to keep his secret role in the Wagner mercenary group a secret. Three journalists were killed in 2019 while trying to investigate the operations of Prigozhin’s men in the Central African Republic.
But recently, it seems that Prigozhin decided to lose. In late September, began to brag About his achievements, admitting that he founded the Wagner Group in 2014. “I went to the training grounds … and tried to cash in order to raise a group that would go and defend the Russians,” he boasted on his Telegram channel, Prigozhin’s Cap .
Sources who spoke to The Daily Beast about Prigozhin were skeptical about his efforts to revolutionize the boat and become a leading voice in Russia, with many saying he could pose a risk to Putin’s “stability” in Russia.
As for the hierarchy of Russian military power and law enforcement agencies, Prigozhin does not seem to hold any top positions – at least not yet.
“There are commanders responsible for much larger armies, including Putin’s special operations forces and personal security, the FSO,” Gatov told The Daily Beast.
Olga Romanova, founder of Russia Behind Bars – an independent group that monitors Russian prisons – believes that although the situation may soon change, Putin’s authority in Russia remains unchallenged.
“Putin is the main criminal boss,” she told The Daily Beast. “Everyone understands that.”