In a shocking statement on the eve of US midterm elections, Yevgeny Prigozhinfounder Vladimir Putin’s Private Army, spoke out about Russia’s relationship with American democracy. “Gentlemen, we intervened, we interfered, we will intervene,” he said.
It’s just the latest sign that the lord-turned catering magnate – known as “Putin’s chef” – has become one of the most powerful voices in Russia, with voices like how. Moscow deal with everything from tripping war in ukraine against powerful opponents in Washington.
But it’s not just Russia’s foreign adversaries who should be worried about Prigozhin—nor are domestic officials safe from his attacks. Last week, Prigozhin accused Saint Petersburg governor Alexander Beglov of corruption.
Prigozhin’s company, Concord, published his appeal to the prosecutor general of Russia, asking for an investigation into “the possible participation of governor Beglov in the creation of an organized crime group on the territory of St. Petersburg aimed at draining the state budget and enriching corrupt officials who were 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 starting to eat each other the Darwinian way,” deputy St. Petersburg, Boris Vishnevsky told The Daily Beast. “Putin’s people are running out of resources.”
Alexander Cherkasov, president of the Nobel Prize-winning human rights body Memorial, told The Daily Beast that now the prosecutor general decides whether to investigate Beglov or ignore Prigozhin’s request by turning it over to an agency. other law enforcement agencies.
Meanwhile, Prigozhin himself seems immune to such accountability.
Cherkasov told The Daily Beast on Tuesday: “When the Memorial sent our request to investigate a violent murder committed by Prigozhin’s men in Syria, the authorities ignored it. “We had a video for investigators showing how militiamen beat a person to death and then burn the body, but our video didn’t seem to be enough evidence for investigators.”
Prigozhin has frequently attacked top Russian officials in recent weeks, criticizing the Russian military’s mismanagement in the war in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, his soldiers are building the “Wagner Line” of fortifications near the border with Ukraine, now controlled by the Russian Federal Security Service.
Last month, RIA FAN, one of the news sites link to Prigozhin, report “some problems” with local authorities trying to stop the construction of fortifications in the Belgorod region. It was the governor of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, then personally ensured the continued construction work.
Olga Bychkova, a longtime observer of Kremlin politics, told The Daily Beast: “Everything seems to be allowed for Prigozhin today, he can even arm the men. locality in the region of Belgorod or Kirov”. “But this is a very dangerous situation: today Prigozhin criticizes the local government, arms the locals, and tomorrow someone who thinks they control the situation in Russia, will not 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 feed the extremely paranoid Putin regime, Prigozhin appears to have been given full control of Russian politics, foreign policy and the war in Ukraine. In another dangerous turn, Commander Wagner, who was convicted up to 12 years in prison in the 1980s for theft, fraud and assault, was recently filmed recruiting thousands of prisoners around Russia’s colonies and correctional labor prisons, promising freed prisoners in exchange for fighting in Ukraine.
Gabidulin said he did not enjoy working under Prigozhin during his time with Wagner. Gabidulin told The Daily Beast in a recent interview: “His Wagner corporation shouldn’t exist, it’s criminal and he doesn’t spend a lot of his money on it. “He sent untrained soldiers, including criminals, to die in carnage at the front.”
“As long as Prigozhin remains loyal to Putin, no one will dare to stop this criminal. He is a brutal leader,” Gabidulin added.
Some experts who spoke to The Daily Beast even suggested that Prigozhin is trying to take over Putin’s presidency. “Prigozhin’s food company feeds Putin and his people, so he has a huge network of agents in the Kremlin, always providing data on the direction of the wind, what Putin doesn’t like. Prigozhin doesn’t miss any of Putin’s signals,” one of the world’s leading Kremlin researchers, Vasily Gatov, told The Daily Beast.
During Russia’s activities in Ukraine, Syria and in Africa over the past eight years, 61-year-old Prigozhin has apparently gone to great lengths to keep his secret role in the Wagner mercenary group secret. Three journalists were killed in 2019 trying to investigate Prigozhin’s people activities in the Central African Republic.
But lately, it seems that Prigozhin has decided to let loose. At the end of September, he started brag about his track record, admits that he founded the Wagner Group in 2014. “I went to the training grounds… and tried to splurge on assembling a group that would go and protect the Russians,” he said. show off on his Telegram channel, Prigozhin’s Cap.
Sources who spoke to The Daily Beast about Prigozhin were skeptical of his efforts to steer the boat and become a leading voice in Russia, many saying he could jeopardize “stability” Putin’s decision in Russia.
As for Russia’s military power hierarchy and law enforcement agencies, Prigozhin doesn’t seem to occupy any of the top spots — at least not yet.
Gatov told The Daily Beast: “There are commanders responsible for much larger armies, including the Special Operations Forces and Putin’s personal security force, the FSO.
Olga Romanova, founder of Russia Behind Bars—an independent group that oversees prisons in Russia—believes that although the situation may soon change, Putin’s authority in Russia remains unchallenged.
“Putin is the main crime boss,” she told The Daily Beast. “Everybody understands that.”