Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian private army Wagner Group, attends the funeral of the slain Russian military blogger Tatarsky at the Troyekurovskoye cemetery. © -picture alliance/dpa/AP
An ex-officer from Russia accuses Yevgeny Prigozhin of planning a coup against Putin. He now rejects the accusation.
Moscow (Russia) - Does Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin want to bring down the Russian president through a coup? The former Russian officer and war criminal Igor Girkin had accused him of this at the weekend. Prigozhin is now responding to the accusations.
The accusation has a history: Especially since May 9, Victory Day in Russia, Prigozhin's public verbal attacks on Putin have been increasingly noticed, as the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has observed. Prigozhin had criticized the Kremlin chief several times for the lack of arms deliveries – but is also said to be competing with Russia's military for Putin's favor.
Prigozhin makes it clear: Wagner does not want to stage a coup against Putin
Prigozhin's answer to the accusation is simple: Wagner simply lacks the personnel to start a coup, he said on Monday, according to the ISW. His arguments are that there are various types of coups d'état around the world – including a "chaotic military coup" in Sudan – that last too long and lead to major conflicts.
Prigozhin said that Wagner did not have the army needed for a coup. In addition, his private army has "good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin."
Russia: Prigozhin speculates about other coup drafteers and again taunts Putin
According to the ISW, Prigozhin himself made an accusation in his defense - at least as a vague hint. According to Prigozhin, the Russian Defense Minister has access to the Russian special forces. Prigozhin has long denied a private feud with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the fight for the favor of the Russian president.
While some people in Russia are longing for a revolution, Prigozhin is only advocating "selected corrections to the Russian system."
According to the ISW, Prigozhin's answers were related to another verbal attack against Putin: Allegedly, Russian state media are forbidden to pronounce the name Wagner - because "the real heroes" should not be recognized. And this ban may have been due to Vladimir Putin, Prigozhin had to remember. (kat)