For Russian spies and soldiers, the biggest shock from last month’s abortive coup in Russia is that Yevegeny Prigozhin didn’t succeed in overthrowing a regime that they say curries little devotion. The Insider has spoken with several sources in Russia’s special services. Prigozhin, the rogue catering magnate turned mercenary financier, they insist, faced little resistance because he enjoys widespread support within the ranks of the very institutions meant to safeguard the state and Vladimir Putin.
To most outside observers, Prigozhin’s rebellion on June 23-24, which saw his Wagner forces come within 120 miles of Moscow, was a cause of astonishment and confusion. Astonishment because few saw it coming and even fewer could understand why it was mostly met by shrugs from the rank-and-file of the Russian army and the nation’s sprawling security apparatus. Confusion because Prigozhin, who came closest to challenging Putin’s 23-year reign, has not been shot or imprisoned – this at a time when merely posting truthful information about Russia’s faltering war in Ukraine can land an ordinary person fifteen years in jail.
In fact, Prigozhin has met at least once with Putin in St. Petersburg since his abortive coup. He still travels in and out of Russia on his private plane, suggesting his passport hasn’t even been confiscated. And now, after much speculation as to his whereabouts, he has turned up in a training camp in Belarus, just outside Minsk, evidently his new home in exile, along with some of his Wagner mercenaries. [Continue reading…]