Tuesday 27 June 2023

Prigozhin Issues First Statement Since Attempted Rebellion In Russia

 Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss or potential former boss of the Wagner paramilitary group, issued on Monday his first statement since leading a rebellion over the weekend that threatened to throw Russia into upheaval.

“It was not our goal to overthrow the regime,” Prigozhin claimed in an audio statement that was uploaded to one of his Telegram pages. “We started our march because of an injustice.”

“We stopped at that moment, when it became clear that much blood would be spilled,” Prigozhin continued. “That’s why we believe that the demonstration of what we were planning to do was enough. Our decision to turn back had two factors: we didn’t want to spill Russian blood. Secondly, we marched as a demonstration of our protest.”

Prigozhin also said that his soldiers would resist signing contracts with the Russian government and claimed that they might be allowed to operate in Belarus.

Some analysts have said that the Wagner is likely over as a result of the rebellion. The group was already facing change as Russian President Vladimir Putin backed an order earlier this month to force private mercenary groups to sign government contracts at the start of July.

The Wagner paramilitary group is designated by the U.S. government as a Transnational Criminal Organization and is frequently accused of committing war crimes.

Prigozhin served nearly a decade in prison after being convicted of “assault, robbery, and fraud” in 1981, according to Insider.

After being released from prison, he made his living selling hot dogs on street corners and eventually started a catering business, where he eventually met Russian President Vladimir Putin — then a low-level government official.


His company, Concord Catering, started receiving contracts in the mid-to-late 1990s from the Russian government.

According to a Wall Street Journal documentary, the Russian government laundered money to Prigozhin through his catering company, which he eventually used to start Wagner — initially a small group of only a few hundred former Russian soldiers. The group has participated in conflicts all over the world, including in Syria and Ukraine.

Russian government contracts to Concord Catering have reportedly been estimated to be well into the billions of dollars.

An expert on Wagner told The Wall Street Journal that it is best to think of the group as a “state-backed paramilitary cartel.” The group is accused of massacring and raping civilians and exploiting natural resources in poor countries with dire security situations. The resources — commodities like gold, oil, and gas — go back to the Russian government.

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