Coming just a day before the world’s media became submerged in the tragic aftermath of the explosion of the Kakhovka dam in Russian-controlled Ukraine, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s latest invective against the Russian army on 5 June slipped under the radar. It was his most explosive yet.
Dressed in a khaki sweatshirt and trousers, in the middle of a forest in a Wagner training camp, Prigozhin, the commander of an army of contract fighters known as the Wagner group, accuses the Russian army of lying about events in the Belgorod region – where anti-Putin Russian partisans have been conducting cross-border raids from Ukraine since late May – and warns of the risk of civil war. He calls for the Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu to be put on trial for facilitating “the genocide of the Russian population” by being totally unprepared for the war in Ukraine, and more than once suggests that Shoigu and other senior military command should be shot. Prigozhin also claims that inhabitants of the Belgorod region have been writing to him, suggesting a Chile-type solution. “Chile means Pinochet,” explains Prigozhin. “… The Russian elite in a stadium surrounded by armed men with machine guns.”