November 28, 2022

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- Then you will miss Putin

– Then you will miss Putin

In an article published on November 15 in the Russian independent newspaper “Exile”. Medusadescribes how the oligarch and self-proclaimed founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is at the center of changing the pace of Russian politics.

– The situation in the country is moving in a direction where power can be gained through the use of force, the newspaper quoted Russian political analyst Ivan Preobrazhensky, and hinted that Prigozhin could be ready to carry out a possible coup.

– Then you will soon miss Putin, Russia expert Jakob Gudzimirsky tells Dagbladet.

Prigozhin: Experts believe that Yevgeny Prigozhin’s political ambitions could be of great importance. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/NTB
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“Putin’s cook”

Prigozhin has long been considered one of Putin’s closest confidants. He is known as “Putin’s Chef” because his restaurants and catering companies often hosted Putin’s dinners with foreign heads of state and government.

Prigozhin has become an increasingly prominent figure, both in Russia and internationally, mainly due to his harsh criticism of those he believes are responsible for Russia’s poor performance in Ukraine.

according to Washington Post.

British author, historian and journalist Owen Matthews also used Prigozhin’s willingness to express his dissatisfaction with the Russian elite as an example of “Formation of a vertical crack in Putin’s salad”.

– Matthews says that the main threat to Putin’s power does not come from the streets, but from within the system.

Cook: Prigozhin made a lot of money in restaurants and restaurants, among other things, which earned him the nickname

Cook: Prigozhin made a lot of money in restaurants and restaurants, among other things, which earned him the nickname “Putin’s Chef,” despite the fact that he’s not actually a chef. Photo: AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, Pool/NTB
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towards elites

In Meduza’s article, it is described how “Putin’s chef” could carve out a niche within political Russia as the successor to the voter groups previously represented by ultra-nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

– A source close to the administration believes that Prigozhin’s policy is “a specialized project, calibrated by the ultra-patriotic majority who, at the same time, do not fully support the regime, criticizing the elite, bureaucracy and business,” writes the newspaper.

Wagner Group: Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, the man behind the ‘Wagner Group’, is recruiting Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine. Video: Telegram/Wagner Group. Correspondent: Vegard Kruger.
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The article refers to a number of Prigozhin’s statements that seem designed to satisfy this section of the Russian population.

– Elites are not moved. Oligarchs and other representatives of the elite have always lived in endless comfort and continue to do so. The newspaper quoted Prigozhin as saying that before their children go to war, the country will not be fully mobilized.

By this quote and others, it is indicated how Prigozhin actively came out against other members of the Russian elite, apparently trying to strengthen his own political power.

This in itself is not necessarily something that Putin and his government considers a threat, but it could be if other events require regime change.

Then Prigozhin could be well positioned to seize power, the paper suggests, writing:

– Ivan Preobrazhensky doubts Prigozhin’s chances of any major electoral success – but he also believes that this is not necessarily necessary. “The situation in the country is moving in a direction where strength can be gained through the use of force.”

Wagner: On November 4 of this year, the headquarters of the private military organization Wagner Group, of which Prigozhin will be the supreme commander, was opened in St. Petersburg.  Photo: Olga Maltseva/AFP/NTB

Wagner: On November 4 of this year, the headquarters of the private military organization Wagner Group, of which Prigozhin will be the supreme commander, was opened in St. Petersburg. Photo: Olga Maltseva/AFP/NTB
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– Nothing can be ruled out

A researcher at the Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute (NUPI), Jakob Gudzimirski has more than 20 years of experience in Russian politics.

He tells Dagbladet that he suspects a coup d’état led privately by Prigozhin is possible, but that it cannot be ruled out.

It’s not something that can be completely ruled out. We’ve seen many things both in Russia and elsewhere in the world that we didn’t think could happen, but why invest in challenging Putin when he’s making good use of the relationship he has with Putin? , the researcher rhetorically asks.

If Wagner’s boss were to harbor such ambition, Gudzimirski believed, he would lack the resources anyway.

– My understanding of the situation is that Prigozhin has a lot of resources – money, people, power – but he’s still small compared to the real power elite.

He also believes that one must be careful not to interpret Prigozhin’s criticism too harshly.

In recent months, there have been three or four voices who believe that Putin should do more. Prigozhin is one of those, but the criticism is not directed at the boss himself, but at his subordinates. Members of the General Staff and some generals are responsible for what is happening in certain parts of Ukraine, says Gudzimirsky.

Offensive player: The Georgia National Legion recently shared this video of them attacking Wagner soldiers. Video: Georgian National Legion. Correspondent: Vegard Kruger.
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– Then you will soon miss Putin

However, Prigozhin’s gambit opens up potential problems for Putin if it contributes to the destabilization of the country’s power structure.

– Prigozhin, and others like him, whose attempts to maneuver their way up the power structure can lead to unintended consequences. When you have such a system, which consists of many elements and you start to touch it, you can quickly detect weak points. In the long run, it can cause the collapse of the entire enterprise.

Russia expert: Jakob Gudzimirsky doesn't think Prigozhin is likely to seize power in Russia.  Image: NUPI

Russia expert: Jakob Gudzimirsky doesn’t think Prigozhin is likely to seize power in Russia. Image: NUPI
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As an example, Gudzimirsky mentions how the recently deceased Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, whose attempt to implement political reform led to the dissolution of the entire Soviet state.

The NUPI researcher also believes that people from the western side should probably be happy that Prigozhin’s coup is unlikely.

– From the perspective of Oslo, Washington and Brussels, imagining Prigozhin as supreme leader of a country with more than 6,000 nuclear weapons is probably a scary scenario. Then you will soon miss Putin as head of state.

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