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Babbling about Prigozhin

A lot of nonsense is being spouted by a bevy of spontaneous “Russian experts” in light of the Prigozhin spray, a mutiny (no one quite knows what to call it), stillborn in the Russian Federation. It all fell to the theatrical sponsor, promoter and rabble rouser Yevgeny Prigozhin, a convict who rose through the ranks of the deceased Soviet state to find fortune and security via catering, arms and Vladimir Putin’s support.

In the service of the Kremlin, Prigozhin proved his mettle. He did his level best to neutralise protest movements. He created the Internet Research Agency, an outfit employing hundreds dedicated to trolling for the regime. Such efforts have been apoplectically lionised (and vilified) as being vital to winning Donald Trump the US presidency in 2016.

His Wagner mercenary outfit, created in the summer of 2014 in response to the Ukraine conflict, has certainly been busy, having impressed bloody footprints in the Levant, a number of African states, and Ukraine itself. Along the way, benefits flowed for the provision of such services, including natural resource concessions.

But something happened last week. Suddenly, the strong man of the mercenary outfit that had been performing military duties alongside the Russian Army in Ukraine seemed to lose his cool. There were allegations that his men had been fired upon by Russian forces, a point drawn out by his capture of the 72nd Motorised Rifle Brigade commander, Lieutenant Colonel Roman Venevitin. Probably more to the point, he had found out some days earlier that the Russian Defence Ministry was keen to rein in his troops, placing them under contractual obligations. His autonomous wings were going to be clipped.

The fuse duly went. Prigozhin fumed on Telegram, expressing his desire to get a number of officials, most notably the Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, and Chief of the General staff Valery Gerasimov, sent packing. A “march for justice” was organised, one that threatened to go all the way to Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin fumed in agitation in his televised address on June 24, claiming that “excessive ambition and personal interests [had] led to treason, to the betrayal of the motherland and the people and the cause.” Within hours, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, whose diplomatic skills are threadbare, had intervened as mediator, after which it was decided that the Wagner forces would withdraw to avoid “shedding Russian blood.”

This all provided some delicious speculative manna for the press corps and commentariat outside Russia. Nature, and media, abhor the vacuum; the filling that follows is often not palatable. There was much breathless, excited pontification about the end of Putin, despite the obvious fact that this insurrection had failed in its tracks. John Lyons of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was aflame with wonder. Where, he wondered, was the Russian President? Why did the Wagner soldiers “get from Ukraine to Rostov, take control of Ukraine’s war HQ then move to Voronezh without a hint of resistance”?

John Lough of Chatham House in London claimed that Putin had “been shown to have lost his previous ability to be the arbiter between powerful rival groups.” His “public image in Russia as the all-powerful Tsar” had been called into question. Ditto the views of Peter Rutland of Wesleyan University, who was adamant in emphasising Putin’s impotence in being “unable to do anything to stop Prigozhin’s rogue military unit as it seized Rostov-on-Don,” only to then write, without explaining why, about uncharacteristic behaviour from both men in stepping “back from the brink of civil war.”

Then came the hyperventilating chatter about nuclear weapons (too much of the Crimson Tide jitters there), the pathetic wail that accompanies those desperate to fill both column space. The same degree of concern regarding such unsteady nuclear powers as Pakistan is nowhere to be seen, despite ongoing crises and the prospect of political implosion.

Commentors swooned with excitement: the Kremlin had lost the plot; the attempted coup, if it could even be called that, had done wonders to rattle the strongman. Those same commentators could not quite explain that Prigozhin had seemingly been rusticated and banished to Belarus within the shortest of timeframes, where he is likely to keep company with a man of comparatively diminished intellect: Premier Lukashenko himself. Prigozhin, for all his aspirations, has a gangster’s nose for a bargain, poor or otherwise.

As Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov put it, the original criminal case opened against Prigozhin for military mutiny by the Kremlin would be dropped, while any Wagner fighters who had taken part in the “march for justice” would not face any punitive consequences. Those who had not participated would be duly assimilated into the Russian defence architecture in signing contracts with the Defence Ministry.

The image now appearing – much of this subject to redrawing, resketching, and requalifying – is that things were not quite as they seemed. Assuming himself to be a big-brained Wallerstein of regime stirring clout, Prigozhin had seemingly put forth a plan of action that had all the seeds of failure. Britain’s The Telegraph reported that “the mercenary force had only 8,000 fighters rather than the 25,000 claimed and faced likely defeat in any attempt to take the Russian capital.”

Another reading is also possible here, though it will have to be verified in due course. Putin had anticipated that this contingently loyal band of mercenaries was always liable to turn, given the chance. Russia is overrun with such volatile privateers and soldiers of fortune. Where that fortune turns, demands will be made.

Ultimately, in Putin’s Russia, the political is never divorceable from the personal. Chechnya’s resilient thug, Ramzan Kadyrov, very much the prototypical Putin vassal only nominally subservient, suggests that this whole matter could be put down to family business disputes. “A chain of failed business deals created a lingering resentment in the businessman, which reached its peak when St. Petersburg’s authorities did not grand [Prigozhin’s] daughter a coveted land plot.” The big picture, viewed from afar, can be very small indeed.


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  1. JulianP

    Thank you Dr. Campmark for your excellent analysis.
    You mention how the “ corps and commentariat outside Russia..” almost fell over themselves with glee at the prospect of calamity for Putin.
    Seems that American “experts” likewise fared no better in their common apprehension of imminent Russian failure.
    See for example:
    Its no longer amusing when these “experts” manage to get things so wrong.
    A real shame that such intellectual fervor can’t be put to more productive use – like workable plans for peace maybe?

  2. Clakka

    Well said Dr Binoy.

    Yesterday I chanced upon a BBC ‘exposé’ and ‘sitrep’ of the mini-saga. There was 10 pages of ‘by-the-minute’ repetitions, quotations, speculation etc that all amounted to a heap of unalloyed tosh replete with inconsequential graphics.

    Scanning their tosh, its narrative and tempo revealed their pathetic pants-wetting, drooling and hope for blood.

    It just goes to show that msm does not contain thoroughly researched incisive journalism, in the alternative it seeks and pumps ‘conflict and sensation’

  3. Douglas Pritchard

    I happened to share with the Guardian my thoughts on the arrangement to transfer both a big chunk of the Russian nuclear arsenal,
    and one of their most ruthless commanders to the friendly country of Belarus.
    I mean, to me, its a potent cocktail, but the paper decided that was something to keep quiet about, and did not meet community standards.
    I listened to a an intelligent discussion on a Chekov play this morning, and quietly thought this one evaded our thought police.
    When do we boycott the colours red, white and blue because thats the flag! Crikey, its hilarious

  4. Andrew Smith

    Like any event or incident like this, wait a few days or a week, then follow some credible analysis whether FT, Vlad Vexler, Eric Draitser* of Counter Punch, Perun, BellingCat, ByLine Times et al.; Anglosphere media has become so used to on the moment PR techniques, they have forgotten how to reflect and analyse….

    Draitser and counterparts have highlighted and complained about the ‘faux (Anglo) anti-imperialist sh*theads of the left’ (imo right too), especially including The Grayzone, Zero Hedge, FoxNews, (K)GB News etc. The GrayZone has several US ‘journalists’ claiming the White Helmets in Syria were promoting a poison gas conspiracy against Putin’s ally, Assad’s regime, while the Grayzone is Kremlin linked.

  5. Canguro

    Per the head article and subsequent comments, it ought to be very clear by now that in the main, mainstream media is a crock of shite and incapable of serious, mature, grown-up and objective detached journalistic reflection on situations and phenomena du jour, to their aggregate shame; their relatively mindless adherence to a lowest common denominator approach to the challenges of the 24/7 cycle along with the fact that within the last decade or so we have seen a generational transition from a community of seasoned journalists to the latest crop of yet to grow whiskers juvenilia who fancy that they can comfortably tread in the footprints of their forebears without having the necessary accumulation of wisdom, experience & perspective.

    All said and done, it’s a minefield of misinformation or superficiality and that said, no wonder that the trend is away from reliance on old-guard media and towards the alternative sources.

  6. A Commentator

    The following are facts, yet I notice some try to downplay the significance of the Wagner Group rebellion
    * Prigozhin had a significant role in advancing the cause and policies of the Putin regime. He was an insider. A Putin ally.
    * As the founder of the Wagner Group he was instrumental in the Russian takeover of Crimea in 2014.
    * His military has been involved in various foreign wars to advance the Putin regime’s policies
    * He has called the Russian military incompetent and corrupt
    * He has stated that NATO is no threat to Russia, that the Ukraine government is not Nazi and that the reason for the invasion of Ukraine is a lie
    His statements are significant and completely undercut the narrative of the anti Western democracy/pro Putin brigade

  7. Michael Taylor

    AC is on the money.

    Instead of getting a new brutal thug, Russia gets to keep its old brutal thug.

    The mainstream media tried their best to turn this into a circus, cheering Prigozhin’s every move (I must admit I also was) as the new great saviour of Russia.

    It wasn’t until the last minute that Prigozhin’s track record was aired.

    The world would be a better place without the likes of Putin. It would also be a better world without the likes of Prigozhin (not that there’s much difference the two). But at least the latter told the truth about the invasion of Ukraine (even though he was happy to participate in it).

  8. A Commentator

    Yes MT, regardless of anyone’s views about US/NATO/western democracy hegemony, (in my opinion) there is zero (or less) international benefit in increasing the authority or international standing of the Putin regime.
    Whatever the motivation of Prigozhin, his statements add a lot of context to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

  9. andyfiftysix

    Prigozhin or Putin, which one is the saint? All I can say is that the mafia works this way. Money and power are strange bedfellows.
    Would have been better for ukraine if wagner did storm the capital. But in war, you take whats given and you fight for the rest. Russia needs to be stopped in its tracks. For too long we have been held hostage to their nasty ways. Its only a matter of time before ukraine pushes them right out. The sooner the better. Let russia sit in its own stew. Its a badly undeveloped 3rd world country that has squandered its position by staying imperialist. The west wanted so bad to bring them into the fold and this back stab is the result. Instead of improving the lot of its people, it spent billions on military hardware and lining the leader’s pockets.
    Just look at google map images of towns scattered around moscow, lots of outside toilets and dirt roads. Everywhere they go, they leave a trail of destruction. The ukraines know where the trenches are because the russians have no hygein standards, just leaving rubbish strewn everywhere. Its a sad tale for sure.

  10. Douglas Pritchard

    This war only keeps going while someone benefits.
    If both sides are, on balance, suffering, then it would stop.
    However with the pipeline gone, Europes energy is now coming from across the Atlantic, and maybe a whole lot more expensive financially, and accelerating climate change.
    Conflict is in the air, continuously.
    Golly, but have you noticed the demand for tanks, and guns, and things that go bang. The boom in that market must be helping someones economy.
    And we are still trading based on the US dollar
    I wonder which nation is reaping rewards, because its certainly not the inhabitants of Ukraine.

  11. andyfiftysix

    Douglas, let me ask you. If America stopped supplying arms to Ukraine, will Russia stop trying to wipe them out? Let me ask you, which is the greater evil, the arms industry or russia wanting to wipe out the ukraine nation under the illusion of empire? Seems to me, you choose to frame the arms industry as the more evil.
    The Ukraines face an existential wipe out. Just look at what pictures of Bahmut show us. This is what liberty soviet style is. Because we fucked up so many other efforts doesnt mean we are wrong to support the effort now.
    “If both sides are , on balance, suffering, then it would stop” is totally absurd. Russia has been descimated militarily, economically and socially, yet, they persist with the notion they will out survive ukraine. They are acting like complete nut jobs. Its obvious for all to see they are slowly grinding themselves into the ground. There is no way for them to win this conflict they created. Yet they dont want to stop. You cant negotiate with a brick wall. You either bounce off it or you knock it down.

  12. andyfiftysix

    Douglas, Russia calculated it had the west over a “barrel”. It thought that NATO was weak. It thought it had the worlds strongest military. It had Europe under its gas blackmail and it thought it was going to take 3 days at most. Putin was preparing for this for a very long time. Crimea only happened in 2013 and russia just got a slap over the wrist. They had hubris on their side. What ever you and I think about the arms industry, supplying ukraine the tools to defend themselves is the right thing to do.

    I get the hatred of the arms industry and the hawks in the american military. I understand where your coming from and normally i would support you too. But my conscience wont let me turn my back on the ukraine nation.

  13. Andrew Smith

    Douglas Pritchard think you have the wrong end of the stick?

    Recently the government of PM ‘mini Putin’ Orban hosted a (Hungarian govt. & Koch linked) MCC ‘Peace Event’ on Russia – Ukraine, suggesting Russia is not at fault, but the event was overpopulated by US GOP linked grifters supported by fossil fueled Koch Network and one, i.e. Sachs, supported by Rockefeller Foundation (Exxon), with much Christian conservatism promoted (like ‘quiet Australians’?); threats to ‘peace all over us’…..

    Russia, Hungary, Turkey etc. and Anglo RWNJs have shared interests in antipathy towards climate science, environment, education, liberal democracy, empowered citizens, women’s right and the EU (for its environmental, labour & financial regulations lacking in the Anglosphere inc. Oz), along with FoxNews, (K)GB News etc; no left or centre interests but corrupt nativist authoritarianism masquerading as Christian conservative values and using ageing regional electors.

  14. Douglas Pritchard

    Hey Andy, we can only deal with what we know for a fact, and thats SFA.
    Russia was taking on Ukraine, not NATO, when the 8 year conflict escalated.
    Breaking wind against thunder is something I cant do but you are asking to make this conflict an exception to the rule.
    Follow the Money.
    The yanks did not want Germany to buy cheap energy from Russia which gives them a competitive edge.
    They wanted Ukraine to be the hard edge, and a major military power. Sell lots of military stuff.
    But ask the ppl who live there if they choose the option when half of them are Russian, and are denied the right to speak the language.
    They are now dispersed over the globe with their homeland now so much brick dust, and abandoned war toys.
    We hear on a daily basis how the president wants to turn the country into a NATO stronghold, but very little from the folk who make the sacrifice.
    If the 2 countries involved sat down at a table, and not allowed to leave until they sorted this cluster f**k, then we could all get back to saving the planet, or watching footy.
    Battle proving our Army vehicles is not sufficient argument for us to take a side in this.
    We and all the others should butt out, and only then will we get an end to it.

  15. andyfiftysix

    douglas, i think you are totally wrong.
    “Russia was taking on Ukraine, not NATO, when the 8 year conflict escalated.” right there, you got it wrong.
    Escalade implies both sides. Ukraine could see it coming and was planning its defences, russia put all its army on stand by on the border. Russian had 10,000 tanks ( so they said). Ukraine had about 100 older soviet tanks. Who planned an invasion? Who friggin escaladed that? Ukraine gave up its nucs when they got independance from russia. Thats not a country with expansionary ideas. I see all the countries next to russia decided to abandon neutrality. I am sure they want to start a fight with russia too. Or is that projection ?
    Yes i understand the yanks position. But the yanks had two agendas going. One to make money and two a warning about what would happen when russia controlled the gas. As they saw it, a win win. For me, cutting off the gas will accelerate the take up of solar energy. A win in my books.
    “But ask the ppl who live there if they choose the option when half of them are Russian, and are denied the right to speak the language.” Ask? ask? Yea well russia thought it could just take. The fact that Ukraine has greatly smashed the russian army is both a testament of western military tech AS well as a people determined to fuck off an oppresor.
    You seem to be under the impression russia would be a benevolent dictator. Listen to russian media to get an idea of what they think of ukraines.
    Its like the old story of a bully that nobody wants to take on. Butt out my arse. There will be an end when russia stops coveting everything. Only when the bully has well and truly learned his lesson.
    Yes the americans have been arseholes too but they are capable of some learning and doing the right thing. Because they have been arseholes in the past doesnt mean EVERYTHING they do is wrong. Doing right for the wrong reasons is ok by me. Beats the alternatives.
    I think its time to see russia for what it really is rather what we want it to be. A bunch of mobsters who beleive in their own coolaide.
    You want to frame it as american imperialism at work, fine, but dont expect anyone to agree with you on this one.

  16. andyfiftysix

    another point Douglas, all those baltic countries have had a history of being controlled by russia. They understand better than you and I what it means to live on your knees. Millions have perished at the hands of russian authorities, that includes russians. You want to know why they prefer the EU to russia? Yes america plays to this audience, are you saying its all talk? Like I said, look how the EU has developed since ww2 and look at how russia as a whole has developed since that time. Would you be willing to build a house in aus now with an outside toilet? would you accept dirt roads to the outer suburbs? We have all witnessed russian soldiers steeling toilet bowls. Steeling anything by the way. There is a distinct difference between how we perceive humanity and how russian authorities perceive humanity. We spend a lot of energy protecting each other, they spend a lot of human capital sending people to the slaughterhouse. I have sympathy for the russian soldiers, they are in no mans land and will die there. close to 200,000 dead soldiers, probably 200,000 wounded, 500,000 of their brightest have fled the country so as not to join the army. I supose they all want to rejoice in their leadership and blame it all on american imperialism.
    No, russian arrogance and hubris is the direct cause of this conflict.

  17. Douglas Pritchard

    Andy, You have no idea how delighted I am feeling to learn that the Yanks blew the pipeline to save the planet.
    They really are to be praised for their ability to read the room.
    This still leaves Ukrainians living (with great difficulties) in the 4 Eastern states, being pounded in retribution for having voted in a free election to opt for Russian control.
    So much for democracy.
    The smart ones deserted the country early in the piece, but if you are male 16-60, then no ifs or buts, you are there to the bitter end.
    The boss wants his pound of flesh, from nearest the heart, and all Russians out.
    Reasonable hey?
    Meanwhile our tax goes to sending Bushmasters, and whatever else is on the shopping list, to the country rated as 116 out of 180, on the world scale of corruption.

  18. A Commentator

    “…. having voted in a free election to opt for Russian control”
    That is impossible to ignore.
    ° Can you provide a list of countries or independent observers that endorse that election?
    ° Was voting conducted uander Russian military supervision?
    ° Was it secret ballot or a vote per household?
    ° How were the interests of the ethnic Ukrainians who had fled, protected?

  19. Douglas Pritchard

    AC, Well, we are asked to ignore the election, but I believe it did happen
    I really dont know if the election was supervised but its a brutal country with a brutal climate, and they probably had their own independent supervisors.
    When the successful candidates were announced it was a smooth transition, totally unlike the Jan 6 events in Washington.
    They do things differently over there, and what gives us the right to be critical?
    The wealthy got out of Ukraine pretty fast, because they probably knew what happens next, and therefore gave up their rights, and interest in proceedings.
    Both sides are more inclined to take up arms rather than talk about it, and look at the history. Thats the way things get sorted.

  20. A Commentator

    When a ballot box is carried from house to house by the occupying military (and without independent observers), it seems a little of a stretch to call it a “free election”
    By the way, Ukraine ranks above Russia on the corruption index
    It ranks above PNG too, but I trust that doesn’t provide a rationale for Australia to occupy PNG

  21. Douglas Pritchard

    AC, now you are cherry picking, but I like it.

  22. andyfiftysix

    No doughie, your choosing to be wilfully in love with the russian side of the story. As for the pipeline, the russians where there a few weeks before it blew up. I guess the conspiracy starts from your perspective, who you beleive the most or what facts fit your agenda.
    As Putin himself admitted today, Wagna is fully government funded, as if we didnt know. Yet only last year he was continually denying the fact. What else doesnt he want you to know? In america they follow the money trail to work out who did what. In russia , you follow the body trail. The russians have only one objective, wipe out ukraine. They even attack restaurants with two missile worth $4m. Never mind the ukraine army. They are in anyones language terrorists who operate just like the mafia. Stop trying to justify their barbarity, the pictures coming out of ukraine say to me your trying to protect russia no matter the butchery. No matter the stupidity of the evidence you choose to spruik. free Votes? now i know your trying it on……..
    If I remember right, it was a rocket fired by a russian that brought down a passenger jet. All denied by the russian government when clearly the russians were in the area trying to forment a disturbance.
    WE clearly dont like the american agenda, the zabrinski doctrine and all, but dont think for a minute the russians are saints. They harbor a much nastier doctrine of imperialism. For them, total destruction justifys the end.
    Here is a link on what the russian government thinks… If listening to these great apes doesnt get your blood boiling, your not human.

  23. Douglas Pritchard

    Andy, starting from the bottom, I am not human,but AI and the I is a bit sus.
    I didnt say the Russians are saints but in many respects they have followed USA with their KGB a parallel to the CIA, and they both run militias for the really dirty work.
    You and AC dont like the way elections are run but nobody questions how a media savvy president got there preaching that he would bring peace to the Donbas. I suggest its just another example of “regime change” organised by Washington.
    So its a corrupt regime, and do not expect nice manners.
    Heaven help me about the pictures you say are emerging. Its a huge media battle and pictures are flying in from both sides, and from all the parties who have bought into the fray because it is a financial benefit.
    We give them Bushmasters but anyone in the car trade tells you, the money is made, in the long run, from spares and service.
    We have a reason to be in it. Any other reason does not make sense.
    And (Am I boring you?) you tell me Putin wants the whole of Ukraine. I think thats something you heard, and will repeat it, but why?
    I think he does not want a NATO hard edge on his doorstop, and if he has to flatten very good farming country, to get a no mans land then he will do that.
    Western Ukraine is business as usual you may have noticed, but you wont see those pictures.

  24. Canguro

    andyfiftysix, I might be going down the wrong rabbit hole here as it’s unclear where you stand wrt the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines… you may have stated the case for the prospective culprit elsewhere, or aligned with Douglas Pritchard, or not, but however, the American journalist Seymour Hersh has firmly stuck a peg in the ground and made the case for the sabotage being lock, stock & barrel yet another American adventure in large-scale criminality.

    Hersh, if you’re familiar with his work, has a solid and unblemished long record as an investigative journalist; his inquiries in the aftermath of this egregious destruction of a major piece of infrastructure pointed directly at America as the instigator of this piece of dark ops and their subsequent scattering of track-covering disinformation to point the fingers of suspicion into different areas. They are, let there be no doubt, masters at black ops, with various agencies having decades of experience in overthrow of governments, initiating coups, assassinations, rabble-rousing, false flag ops and more. The mainstream media in the states have long been neutered, castrated if you like, bought off, infiltrated, in the sense of no longer being capable of fearless and objective investigations of major state-sponsored criminality… witness the 9/11 disaster of 2001 and the subsequent coverup of critical information and objective evidence of it being an inside job, along with the pathetic & obsequious adherence to the ‘official narrative’ by the media corporations.

    Hersh refuses to have anything to do with MSM, such is his contempt for their lack of balls and unwillingness to pursue truth. He can be found on Substack.

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