BSo far, the Russian leadership has not deviated from the formula, President Vladimir Putin's "Special operation" in Ukraine is "going according to plan". Now statements by the businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is also associated with Internet hate speech in the West and with the mercenary group "Wagner", are increasing doubts about this. Independent media have been reporting for weeks Prigozhin personally visits prison camps and campaigns in front of prisoners to join "Wagner" and fight in Ukraine. Now a video has been made public that is supposed to show such an appearance by Prigozhin. The businessman himself commented that whoever does not want private military companies or convicts to fight in Ukraine, or who is uncomfortable with the issue, should “send their own children to the front”. You have to make a decision.
In the video, which is said to have been recorded in a penal colony in the Mari El republic (located about halfway between Moscow and the Urals), a man who looks exactly like Prigozhin, surrounded by men in prison garb, poses as a "representative". by "Wagner". The "war" in the Ukraine be tougher than everyone else, he says, and lists the “sins” of the mercenaries: you are not allowed to desert or go into captivity; for this you get “two grenades”. Alcohol, drugs, looting and sexual contact are also prohibited. He needs "only stormtroopers," says the man. Anyone who is "snotty" has the best chance of survival. After six months, the prisoners would be pardoned, he promises. Only "Allah and God" would "take prisoners out" before the sentence was up, but "in a wooden box." I, on the other hand, will take you alive. But I don't always bring you back alive."
It seems possible that the video, which was probably recorded with a smartphone, was distributed with Prigozhin's help as a new sign of loyalty to Putin. Government contracts to feed the armed forces and public institutions such as kindergartens and schools have made “Putin's cook” wealthy; and recruiting prisoners from the penal camps on promises of pay and pardon would be impossible without the plazet of those in power.
After the recent setbacks in Ukraine, some representatives of Putin's political personnel have suggested a general mobilization or stepped up efforts to hire contract soldiers in order to get the Russian supply problems under control. But Putin makes no move to shake the widespread image of the war in Russia as a limited "special operation". In his commentary, Prigozhin now praised the role of the mercenaries, and thus obviously his own, in “protecting the dearly beloved homeland”. They are "patriots and cannot allow their homeland to be disgraced". If he, Prigozhin, were a prisoner, "I would dream of joining this friendly collective, in order to have the opportunity not only to redeem my debt to the homeland, but to repay it with interest".