Putin: Putin steps up efforts to undercut Wagner leader after rebellion

MOSCOW: President Putin tried to cast fisherman the leader who has turned against him is corrupt, even as he says the Kremlin is funding mercenary activities.
EQUAL Yevgeny Prigozhin to Belarus by private jet from St Petersburg on Tuesday, Putin detailing more than $3 billion, he said that Russia paid Wagner’s soldiers and food supplied by Prigozhin’s catering company to Russian troops fighting in Ukraine.
Putin told a group of soldiers at the Kremlin: “I hope that nobody steals anything, or let’s say just a little bit in the process. “Of course we will look into all of this.”
Prigozhin’s portrayal of a greedy traitor is an attempt to undercut leader Wagner’s claim of popular sympathy as his army raced through southern Russia to within 200 kilometers ( 124 miles) from Moscow before canceling the mutiny following an agreement brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Under the agreement, Putin pledged not to prosecute Wagner for armed rebellion, and investigators closed a criminal case on Tuesday.
That’s not to say prosecutors can’t open embezzlement and corruption cases, according to Alexander Baunov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He said on Telegram: “Most ordinary Russian citizens love defenders of the motherland and do not like smart businessmen.
The implication is that Prigozhin rebelled before the July 1 deadline for the Wagner warriors to sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense, effectively ending independence and the flow of state money to his group of mercenaries.
Prigozhin accused Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of trying to “kill” Wagner and flatly refused his request to sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense. Putin supported the measure a few days before the uprising.
In an audio message on Telegram justifying his rebellion, Prigozhin said his fighters had received widespread public support on their march to Moscow. Their easy advance through Russia’s heartland only proves his point that the Defense Ministry is not protecting the country because there are “serious security problems,” he said.
Crowds cheering Prigozhin and Wagner’s troops in videos on social media as they withdrew from the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don after the mutiny ended reinforced his argument.
In the weeks leading up to his uprising, Prigozhin toured Russian cities, holding public meetings to argue that the military risked defeat in Ukraine unless war intensified with the move. mass mobilization and martial law.
He appeared comfortable talking to ordinary Russians, visiting grieving relatives of Wagner troops killed in Ukraine to drink tea at their homes and award service medals or comfort them at funerals.
He showed his popularity in many social media messages with humor that hit the psyche of ordinary Russians.
By contrast, Putin has surrounded himself with security officials and military officers since the mutiny, appearing shaken by the biggest threat to his nearly 24-year rule.
Many of his top officials have also been taken aback by the crisis. At a televised meeting with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday, the ministers were stunned and solemn.
Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said in a report on Tuesday that Putin was trying to portray Prigozhin as a “corrupt and liar to ruin his reputation among Wagner staff and in society.” Russian Society”. “Putin may have decided that he cannot directly remove Prigozhin without making him a martyr at this point.”


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