Who is Yevgeny Prigoyine, Putin’s potential “rival”?
As the sad anniversary of the war in Ukraine approaches, here’s a portrait of one of Russia’s most controversial men
Former criminal and businessman Yevgeny Prigoyine expressed his outrage to the Russian authorities on Tuesday, February 21. The man heads the Wagner militia, a military squadron that defends his country’s interests and is currently fighting in Ukraine. He recently accused his country’s general staff of: a ” Treason “ because the Wagner militia no longer received ammunition and equipment from the state. He is nicknamed “Putin’s chef” because the businessman supplies the Kremlin with his catering company. This is a portrait of one of Russia’s most intriguing and controversial men.
Militia leader Wagner
Yevgeny Prigoyine is a controversial figure in Russia and around the world as the leader of the Wagner militia, a Russian paramilitary organization involved in armed conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and the Central African Republic. Though known to be a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prigozhin remains a mysterious figure to many. On the surface, Prigozhin is a rather discreet man, avoiding the limelight and interviews. The information available about him is often conflicting and difficult to verify, but some sources say he has links to criminal groups and has previously been imprisoned for theft and tax evasion.
The Wagner organization is suspected of being involved in human rights abuses and war crimes. The Russian government denies any official involvement in this allegedly illegal private militia. Many experts believe the organization is closely linked to the Kremlin and is being used to further Russian geopolitical objectives abroad. This diplomatic veil allows this militia to serve Russian interests and commit war crimes with complete impunity.
An opponent of military power?
Yevgeny Prigoyine has repeatedly criticized the Russian high command in the past, first Chief of Staff Valeri Guerassimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu: the two figureheads of the war in Ukraine. Recently, the allegations that the boss explained to von Wagner because of the lack of military material were received by the ministry as “ absolutely wrong”. It is rare to see a man within Russian power capable of so challenging the country’s political union. Normally, faced with such a disruption in the military union, Vladimir Putin would have imposed sanctions while the conflict in Ukraine, currently in Bakhmout, rages on.
This mercenary leader contradicts the statues of the Russian army and thus indirectly the head of the Kremlin. If he hasn’t yet been sanctioned by the Russian leader, that’s because his militia has a crucial role to play in the country’s clout and foreign policy. It is therefore fashionable to ask the question: how far will this political affront go, which no one in Russia has yet dared to wage? In short, Yevgeny Prigojine is an enigmatic figure who seems to prefer shadows to light, but continues to play a central and disruptive role in the Ukrainian conflict and Russian power.