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How Russia’s State Media Reacted to the Wagner Revolt


The opening line of the Kremlin’s flagship weekly information program on Sunday night time made the official place clear concerning the 24-hour mutiny staged by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the mercenary chief who despatched his troops marching on Moscow solely to tug them again on the final second.

“Armed mutiny in Russia just isn’t supported by the society,” stated Dmitry Kiselyov, the anchor and senior Kremlin propagandist whose program — Vesti Nedelu or “Information of the Week” — units the tone for the federal government monopoly on broadcast information. “Treason within the time of conflict is a grave crime.”

The newscast then confirmed in full Mr. Putin’s vehement, 5-minute speech from Saturday morning, during which he accused Mr. Prigozhin, with out mentioning his title, of stabbing Russia within the again.

Inside hours of that handle, the vows that Mr. Prigozhin would face legal prosecution for his actions had evaporated. All information retailers carried the assertion from Dmitri S. Peskov, the presidential spokesman, who broke the dramatic rigidity by asserting a behind-the-scenes deal credited to President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of neighboring Belarus. In change for standing down, Mr. Prigozhin was granted secure passage in another country and his troops had been forgiven.

Mr. Kiselyov’s prolonged report on Sunday night time instructed that Mr. Prigozhin had discovered little common help for his rebellion and resorted to flowery language to explain its about-face: “The armored column ran out of petrol and the sensation that the top of mutineers, Prigozhin, was about to evaporate into bloody steam, strengthened.”

In brief, this system concluded that Mr. Prigozhin was a traitor whose act of defiance meant little or no within the face of Russian unity.

NTV, one other state-run channel, echoed the identical theme on its weekly roundup, calling the rebellion a betrayal. It hinted on the involvement of international powers — the Kremlin’s default boogeyman — by referring to stories that American intelligence was conscious of the brewing rebel however didn’t converse out.

Whereas state tv is the principle supply of reports for the older era, youthful Russians depend on Telegram, a social media app, that was flooded with information and commentary — not all of it dependable.

An influential group of pro-war bloggers who’ve been supportive but important of the conflict effort, discovered themselves in a bind. They had been caught between their admiration for Mr. Prigozhin and his mercenary military and their dismay over the injuries his rebel had opened.

One blogger, Yuri Kotenok, puzzled aloud on Telegram on Sunday the place the army management had disappeared to throughout the disaster. The principle targets of Mr. Prigozhin’s ire — the protection minister, Sergei Okay. Shoigu, and the army chief of workers, Vitaly V. Gerasimov — haven’t been seen or heard from because the rebel started.

“On the day when this occurred, the place had been you?” he wrote. “Or are you able to solely shoot movies when there isn’t a menace to present the president a present? Come to your senses, this isn’t a present. The nation has been at conflict for a 12 months now.”

Whilst analysts exterior Russia instructed the transient revolts had immeasurably broken the popularity of President Vladimir V. Putin as infallible and invincible, the Russian authorities media predictably forged the day as an general win for Moscow.

However just a few Russian voices instructed that the issues revealed by the mutiny wanted to be addressed.

Moskovsky Komsomolets, a scrappy tabloid, featured the headline “Prigozhin Leaves, Issues Stay: Deep Political Penalties of a Failed Coup.” (Mr. Prigozhin maintained that he was not fomenting a coup, merely making an attempt to drive a change of the highest army management.)

The tabloid instructed that “the very best energy within the nation” had created the issue by permitting unlawful militias to flourish, weakening the state’s monopoly on violence.

Everybody had been puzzled by the impunity with which Mr. Prigozhin had been allowed to criticize the highest army brass, the tabloid stated. (Impartial analysts exterior Russia famous that bizarre protesters get prolonged jail phrases for related statements, however that went unmentioned within the state-run retailers.)

“This created an environment of concern and uncertainty and trampled down the popularity of the authorities,” wrote Mikhail Rostovsky, a columnist, including that the mutiny confirmed to the world that Russia was susceptible.

“Yevgeny Prigozhin will go to Belarus, however the issues created by him (to be truthful: not solely by him) will stay,” the columnist stated, “Fixing them can be oh so tough.”

Alina Lobzina and Milana Mazaeva contributed reporting.

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