Prigozhin: Russia’s mercenary supremo turned Kremlin enemy

MOSCOW: Mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was confirmed lifeless on Sunday by Russia’s Investigative Committee after a aircraft crash close to Moscow, was a Kremlin assured catapulted to infamy by the offensive in Ukraine earlier than he turned his troops on Russia’s capital.
Prigozhin’s order in June that his personal preventing group march on Moscow to unseat Russia’s high brass introduced probably the most critical problem to President Vladimir Putin’s maintain on energy over greater than two-decades.
His forces captured a key navy headquarters within the metropolis of Rostov-on-Don in southern Russian earlier than setting their course for Moscow, the place authorities beefed up safety in anticipation of a showdown.
“The evil that the navy management of the nation brings should be stopped,” Prigozhin introduced after claiming the defence ministry had launched strikes on Wagner bases.
However the failed bid ended with Putin in the end providing exile in neighbouring Belarus to the mutineers and Prigozhin, who then appeared in footage vowing to make Africa “freer” and recommended he was on the continent.
Earlier than Putin, who accused Prigozhin of treason, ordered troops to Ukraine in February final yr, the 62-year-old mercenary head dispatched fighters from his personal pressure to conflicts within the Center East and Africa however all the time denied involvement.
That modified final yr when he introduced himself because the founding father of the Wagner group and started a mass recruitment drive at Russia’s prisons for foot troopers to struggle in alternate for an amnesty.
– Bitter high brass rivalry – He gained public acclaim as Wagner spearheaded the seize of a number of key Ukrainian cities together with Bakhmut. However Prigozhin started blasting what he stated was systemic mismanagement and mendacity within the Russian defence ministry.
Prigozhin was locked in a bitter months-long energy battle with the defence ministry as his ragtag forces spearheaded the expensive battles for restricted positive factors in japanese Ukraine.
He had earlier accused the Russian navy of attempting to “steal” victories from Wagner and slammed Moscow’s “monstrous forms” for grinding progress on the bottom.
And he instantly blamed Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and different senior officers for his fighters’ deaths, claiming Moscow had not offered enough ammunition.
Not like Russia’s generals, who’ve been criticised for shirking the battles, the stocky and bald Prigozhin usually posed for photos alongside mercenaries allegedly on the entrance strains.
He posted on social media pictures from the cockpit of a SU-24 fighter jet and challenged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to an aerial duel.
The previous hotdog vendor and native of Putin’s hometown Saint Petersburg, who was jailed for almost a decade in the course of the Soviet period, for years dismissed he was linked with Wagner.
However final September, he conceded that he had based the preventing pressure and opened headquarters in Saint Petersburg.
A video surfaced of a person bearing a robust resemblance to Prigozhin in a jail courtyard, providing contracts to prisoners to struggle in Ukraine with a chilling set of circumstances.
– Taking pictures deserters – “In the event you arrive in Ukraine and resolve it isn’t for you, we are going to regard it as desertion and can shoot you,” stated the person.
When video footage circulated displaying an alleged Wagner deserter being executed with a sledgehammer, Prigozhin praised the killing, calling the person featured within the video a “canine”.
Prigozhin rose from a modest background in Russia’s former imperial capital to turn out to be a part of an inside circle near Putin.
He spent 9 years in jail within the ultimate interval of the USSR after being convicted of fraud and theft and, within the chaos of the Nineties, he started a reasonably profitable quick meals firm.
He fell into the restaurant sector and opened a luxurious location in Saint Petersburg whose clients included Putin, then making the transition from working within the KGB to native politics.
The corporate he based at one level labored for the Kremlin, incomes Prigozhin the soubriquet of “Putin’s chef”.
Prigozhin has been described as a billionaire with an enormous fortune constructed on state contracts, though the extent of his wealth is unknown.
The most effective-known pictures reveals him on the Kremlin in 2011, bending down over a seated Putin and providing him a dish whereas the Russian chief appears again with an approving look.
– The ‘troll manufacturing facility’ – He was sanctioned by Washington, which accused him of enjoying a task in meddling within the 2016 US presidential election, particularly by his web “troll manufacturing facility”.
Prigozhin on the time denied any involvement and in 2020 requested for $50 billion in compensation from the USA.
In July 2018, three journalists researching Wagner’s operations within the Central African Republic for an investigative media outlet had been killed in an ambush.
Western nations have accused the personal preventing group of coming to assistance from the navy junta in Mali, in a transfer that contributed to France’s determination to finish an nearly decade-long navy operation there.

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