Prigozhin’s Military Mutiny and Its Military-Political Reasons and Consequences: Power vs. Politics

Prigozhin’s Military Mutiny and Its Military-Political Reasons and Consequences: Power vs. Politics

By Vakhtang Maisaia, Professor, Caucasus International University (CIU)

On June 23, 2023 the private military company “WAGNER” and its Commander Yevgeny Prigozhin launched the military mutiny that has been transformed into well-organized military coup d’état attempt with successful end for him (I will explain why below). The main reason why he has launched the mutiny from his formal consideration was sudden assault from air to his loyal formation rare field camps where the “Wagner” redeployed after they left Donbass Bakhmut frontline since beginning of June this year. However, real and true reason were different. According to my sources, the reasons were, at least, three ones that very inherently irritated Prigozhin and forced him to start concrete behaviors. These reasons were the following:

  1. Fierce and unprecedented confrontation with Defense Minster Sergey Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valeri Gerasimov who were very against of existing of the “Wagner” and wanted their forcefully reintegration into the Regular Armed Forces. Moreover, the key confrontation between Prigozhin and Shoiugu remains business interests clash and Prigozhin’s very rude slam to Shoigu’s daughter and her husband personally with fierce ostracism manner. Army General Shoigu has been running air lifting business even since when he was Minister of State Emergency Affairs and the same business is being run by Yevgeny Prigozhin together with well-known Victor But who were transferring all his assets hold in Russia as well as abroad to Prigozhin’s one of the airs lifting company registered in the free trade zone (unknown where concretely). Prigozhin and Shoigu interests intertwined in African continent with inclusion of arms smuggling. Even Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadirov confirmed that Prigozhin’s so-called “Just March” was affiliated with his personal (means Prigozhin’s) business transactions non-fulfillment. Moreover, Sergey Shoigu confronted with “Wagner” combatant groups attempt to retake those armaments provided by the central logistical supplement and used them in arms smuggling cases, even resold to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These were concrete interests’ conflicts between Prigozhin and Shoigu together with Valeri Gerasimov who were requested from President Vladimir Putin to get disbanded the “Wagner” formations and subordinated to the Ministry of Defense of Russian Federation. President Putin was in a way to wave and drag out the process as Prigozhin himself shielded his own business (gold and treasure stones included diamond business abroad). However, lately he informally gave his consent to disarm Prigozhin’s private company formations that became disclosed by the “Wagner’s intelligence service “Enigma” and the information was handed over directly to Prigozhin who ordered to start mutiny. He received the information on slaughter and attrition to his main field command HQ near Kursk on June 23 and he decided to pre-empt the scenario and strike first and get everyone in dismay that he has done very successfully. It is also possible that he and his team was supported by high-level officers from the Russia’s Main Intelligence Department HQ – GRU and the column of attacking forces to Moscow was headed and commanded personally ex-high-level GRU officer, Vice-Colonel Dmytry Utkin personally who is sought more powerful rather than Prigozhin himself and is the “grey cardinal”. By the way, some military units penetrated on “Wagner” side, for instance, namely most elite 50th Squadron of 98 Airborne Division. By the way, Prigozhin and Victor Bout are doing common business in transferring arms smuggling with air jets owned by Prigozhin and Bout. They met before the mutiny two days before in Omsk to discuss their joint business plans. By the way, both they have common political lobby in name of “Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia” chaired by Leonid Slutsky and Victor Bout is being affiliated with so-called “SILOVIKI” clan chaired by Igor Sechin and Nikolai Patrushev. Meanwhile, his decision to join politics was backed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a powerful Russian businessman and close ally of Putin. In a statement posted by his catering company, Concord, he said: “Viktor Bout is not a person, he is an example of firmness. Hence, Victour Bout and Yevgeny Prigozhin are allies and business partners, mainly with transactions in African continent in Mozambique, Kongo, Angola and Mali;
  2. Prigozhin embarrassed with his daughter’s Polina’s business transaction failure that was blocked by from the Presidential Staff level, presumable by personal Chief of the Administration Anton Vaino who hated Prigoizhin unlike his Deputy Sergey Kirienko who contrary support him closely. The business transaction blockade in one of Sankt-Petersburg very luxury area, presumable Vasilevsky Island territory, filled up his patience and he accepted as his personal insult. The business transformation into crony state corporatism made his ambitious very hiked and he wanted to get replace local Russian tycoons and that is why local tycoons confronted with him directly and made him foes with Roman Abramovich chairperson. Namely, Roman Abramovich in very narrow meeting with President Putin in first hours of the mutiny requested to military suppress and put down the mutiny with most severe manner, however another tycoon more closely affiliated with President Putin Jury Kovalchuk was against. Hence. It means that Prigozhin has clashed and slammed with local influential tycoons. By the way, one of the influential tycoons, Vladimir Potanin even fled Russia and flied to Turkey with his private jet as soon as information on mutiny disseminated;
  3. The “Wagner”’s mutiny was very well planned and executed and previously its planning started in the beginning of June and was kept as emergency case-study situational one. Presumably Prigozhin has very strong political lobby behind him and he coordinates with his effort with one of the influential political clans “Siloviki” (Bortnikov-Sechin-Ivanov-Patrushev). Namely Patrushev was initiated the negotiation process with prigozhin on behulf of the Kremlin side and been in touch with President of Belarus Anatoly Lukashenko via his Chief of Administration and his “grey cardinal” Victor Sheiman. Presumable Patrushev fixed his neutrality position when in front of Putin was discussing together with Sergey Kirienko, who later also was participating in negotiation with Prigozhin, to militarily disbanded the mutiny. Mainly supporters were Shoigu, Gerasimov, Zolotov (Chief in Commander of Russian National Guard), Roman Abramovich and FSB Director Bortnikov. Presumable before Prigozhin’s key allies were as follow:
  • Deputy President Office Chief Sergey Kirienko, who is foe to Sergey Shoigu
  • Tycoon Jury Kovalchuk
  • President of “Rosneft” Oil Corporation Igor Sechin
  • Secretary to ruling party “United Russia” Andrey Turchak
  • Possible Governor of Tula Region and Putin’s challenger who is to become Defense Minister after Shoigu and who brokered deal with Prigozhin himself Aleksey Dumin

His business expanded significantly to catering and providing school lunches. In 2010, President Putin helped open Prigozhin’s factory, which was built on generous loans by a state bank. In Moscow alone, his company “Concord” won millions of dollars in contracts to provide meals at public schools. He also organized catering for the Kremlin events for several years – earning him the nickname “Putin’s chef” and has provided catering and utility services to the Russian military.

Hence here are only reasons why Prigozhin began the mutiny. However new military mutiny with ex-Commander of 58th Army HG Major-General Ivan Popov could be perceived in nearest future as he had appealed in “closed network” for the Russian military officers sharply criticized the Army leadership with chairmanship of incumbent Chief in General Staff, Army General Valeri Gerasimov. It could be a political high political scandal; at least, however the case is very sensitive due to war against sovereign Ukriane.