“If it goes on like this, the official security forces will definitely stop it.”
This guy reminds me of Roman Maroni, in the movie Johnny Dangerously.
You lousy cork soakers!!!!
Russia’s shadow army boss has incensed some figures in the Kremlin so much with his increasingly scathing takedowns of the country’s top military brass that staffers in the presidential administration are preparing to take him down.
That’s according to a new report out Wednesday by Meduza, which cited sources close to the Kremlin as saying that Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin’s trash-talking rants about the war have begun to “seriously bother the country’s top leadership.”
A day earlier, Prigozhin publicly accused troops from Russia’s regular army of “hauling ass” from their positions in Bakhmut, mocked Victory Day celebrations on Red Square, and lashed out at an unnamed “happy grandpa” in charge of the war effort who he said was actually a “complete jackass.”
(The jibe was widely seen as a possible swipe at Vladimir Putin, though Prigozhin on Wednesday said the label “could” have been directed at either the former deputy defense minister, current Chief of the General Staff, or possibly a former reality TV contestant.)
Though Prigozhin has butted heads with defense officials for months, his attacks have escalated in recent weeks as his public tirades expose growing infighting and dysfunction. He and his supporters have repeatedly hinted at the specter of a civil war if Russia loses in Ukraine, and he has accused “traitors” in the Russian establishment of trying to tank Wagner’s efforts to seize the embattled Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
After weeks of such outbursts, Prigozhin’s ultimatums to the Defense Ministry are now seen as a “serious threat,” sources close to the presidential administration told Meduza.
It’s now become clear, one source said, that he’s not acting “as a member of the team or for common interests.”
“He has his own project, Bakhmut, and he is doing everything for that. But this is a personal project to gain influence over the Ministry of Defense so that Wagner will become the main victorious force,” the unnamed source said.
Prigozhin’s jab at the unnamed “happy grandpa” also reportedly ruffled some feathers in the Kremlin, with one source telling Meduza the comment had clearly been directed at the Russian president. “Of course, he can later say that it was about [Defense Minister Sergei] Shoigu or about some abstract layman, but people draw their own conclusions,” the source said.
The Wagner boss may also be losing his cool after making a “personal promise” to Putin that his mercenary group would take control of Bakhmut by a certain deadline—a deadline that he has been unable to meet, other sources said. Experts have said he may be preemptively placing blame for a humiliating battlefield defeat to save face.
Whatever the motivation behind his unhinged vents, Prigozhin has already crossed all the “red lines,” sources close to the presidential administration said. Now, staffers within the presidential administration are said to be preparing a smear campaign against him if he “continues to break away.”
Or, as one other source predicted, the security services could get involved if he continues to go rogue.
“As long as Wagner is there [on the frontline], there is little danger for Prigozhin, he has the chance to enter into direct dialogue with the president. But if it goes on like this, the official security forces will definitely stop it,” one source explained.
Prigozhin’s wild antics have reportedly also sparked controversy in the State Duma, where a proposal to invite him to speak to lawmakers has apparently made some of them nervous.
Russia’s Kommersant newspaper cited a source close to the presidential administration on Wednesday who said chances were low of Prigozhin ultimately getting an invite, since there could be “unpredictable consequences.”
Prigozhin, in comments to The Daily Beast on Wednesday, said he’d had some “problems” scheduling an appearance before the State Duma because “everyone is squabbling” about what his official status is.
But thanks to France and the U.K. moving to officially designate Wagner a terrorist group, he said, “now [Wagner] will have the status of a terrorist organization, and I will actually be vested with an official status.”