The Life and Downfall of Yevgeny Prigozhin: From Petty Criminal to Wagner Private Army Leader

Yevgeny Prigozhinthe master of Wagner private armywho has died, along with his entire staff, in a accident aircraft when I was flying between St. Petersburg and Moscow, two months after trying – in mid-June of this year – a coup against the Russian government and its president, Vladimir Putin, once his protector and partner, was one of those characters that seems incredible, except in Russian literature. Or in Russian reality. So pronounced and demonic were his angles and sharp his profiles.

His abrupt end, surely by order of President Putin himself, a man who when appropriate can support enemies, but in no way “traitors”; or its military leadership, which could not allow the deaths of the military aviators that Wagner’s forces shot down during the coup attempt in June to go unpunished, is the perfect climax to a life that already started out very crooked. Who seemed headed for fame and fortune, but now, in the aftermathit seems that from the beginning it was doomed to catastrophe.

Prigozhin began his career of doom as a petty criminal in St. Petersburg, in the last years of Brezhnev. With various cronies he assaulted a defenseless woman in the street, gave her a judo hold that left her unconscious, stripped her of her jewelry, watch, bag and shoes, and left her lying on the sidewalk. It was not his first offense. When the police caught him, he was sentenced to ten years in prison.

He came out of jail, in the troubled times of Yeltsin, transformed –in what sense and to what extremes it is difficult to explain; Well, it’s hard to imagine how such a boarding school forges character and distorts the soul, but I suppose it can be said that he came out “extremely hardened” and determined to amass money. He amassed it, through hospitality, from where he expanded into all kinds of businesses, to become a multi-millionaire restaurant owner. army of mercenaries useful to the State in covert operations, usually African.

The interesting thing is that that prison experience made him very convincing when, due to the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Army and the Wagner Group, he reached an agreement with the political powers by which he was given recruit prisoners with blood crimes into jails making them an “advantageous” offer. We have seen him in a prison yard, surrounded by convicts, honestly warning them of what was likely to happen to them: if you enlist as Wagner’s soldiers to go to the Ukrainian front, you will surely die. But if you survive the fighting for six months, you will be free, with money in your pocket, and you will enjoy jobs provided by the State or scholarships to study at universities and start a new life.

We have seen him in the courtyard of some prison talking face to face with the captives. It must have been convincing, or maybe Russian prisons are a branch of hell and for the captive it’s as good to stay there as to go to the front, the fact is that 38,000 unfortunate people signed up for the adventure, forgetting the wise advice according to which “in the military you don’t have to volunteer or to eat”. Of these 38,000, according to NATO accounts, about 30,000 died in the front line of fire.

Now, even such a demonic and heartless person, seeing the bloodbath and his men turned into cannon fodder, must have felt –this is pure speculation of the above-signed– something for them; if not compassion, indignation, a malaise; Or perhaps it seemed to him that so many casualties dented his successful reputation, and he sensed that he was becoming too powerful for the Kremlin. Be that as it may, the situation prompted him to take several clearly wrong initiatives: the first, attempt a coup; the second, abort it after 24 hours and enter into negotiations; third, believe in guarantees of impunity from the state authorities and return to Russia, where he had the headquarters of his business, and his mansion, tacky and princely, and his family.

Bad guys are often hunted for that weakness of heart. Although, knowing these people as he knew them, because in reality he was one of them, I imagine that Prigozhin already suspected that he had no escape and that his end was near. And if he didn’t suspect it, it’s because besides being evil he was stupid.

2023-08-24 21:50:38
#Prigozhins #madness


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