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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with [2]

When Yevgeny Prigozhin (lead image, right) arrived at Southern Military District headquarters in Rostov, announcing to Lieutenant-General Vladimir Alexeyev that he was on his way Moscow to remove Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff, Alexeyev told him “Go get them.”

Prigozhin didn’t take the road to Moscow. The thin column of Wagner men began to disperse enroute, while those who pressed on were stopped at the Oka River.  While Prigozhin was announcing, and western media megaphoning, that he had taken control of Rostov, Prigozhin didn’t know that Shoigu was in Rostov; controlled the city; and with the General Staff decided on the tactics which quickly scattered the Wagner forces, halted Prigozhin’s public relations campaign,and cut off his money supply.

For the General Staff, this was a tactic of giving Prigozhin enough rope to hang himself. He did.  The General Staff defeated him handily;  the military engagement was concluded almost bloodlessly. Politically, the General Staff won much more.

For President Vladimir Putin it was a replay of October 25, 2003. That was the day, at Novosibirsk Airport Mikhail Khodorkovsky (lead image, left), owner of the Yukos oil group, was arrested, charged with fraud, tax evasion, criminal conspiracy, and other offences. That story, and the reorganisation of Yukos under state control, are well-known. Prigozhin’s story is just beginning.

Putin has declared [3] as much, with the apology that he hadn’t known until now. “I hope no one stole anything in the process or, at least, did not steal a lot. It goes without saying that we will look into all of this.”  

His spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, added the qualifier [4]: “Putin has spoken about the quite significant sums that were allocated through the Ministry of Defense. He called out these figures, but the company was also engaged in its own business, which has nothing to do with the state.”  

From his exile in London, in a publication sponsored by The Economist [5],  Khodorkovsky declared Prigozhin to be a “thug and war criminal”, but notwithstanding, “truly a revolutionary”. “Only an armed populace can topple this dictatorship”, Khodorkovsky said as he made his appeal for British and NATO support for military intervention across the Russian border, all the way to Moscow on Abrams, Challenger and Leopard tanks. “The West should bet big on Russia’s democratic opposition and grant it agency” – by “agency” Khodorkovsky meant a seat for himself inside the lead tank.

This is the end of MI6 and CIA funded regime-changing tactics of Alexei Navalny, the Khodorkovsky manifesto signals [6].  “Regime change is coming…[but] only an armed populace can topple this dictatorship… we must not only support the toppling of the regime but also be ready to asset our democratic interests through force when it falls.”  

This is the familiar  枪杆子里面出政权 – Mao Zedong’s slogan [7], “political power out of the barrel of a gun”.

To save himself under house arrest in Belarus, Prigozhin has appealed to Putin for release: “we did not aim to overthrow the existing regime and the legitimately elected government.” Prigozhin also wants cash back “so that PMC [private military company] Wagner would continue to work in a legal framework.”

Putin’s answer has been to delegate the political power to the barrel of the gun; that’s the General Staff. The investigation of Prigozhin’s fraud, tax evasion, criminal conspiracy and other offences go now to the security services, the Interior Ministry, and state prosecutors. “I extend my gratitude to you,” Putin told [8] a parade inside the Kremlin of personnel representing the army, National Guard, the Federal Security Service (FSB), Interior Ministry and the Federal Guard Service, “for your service, courage and valour, for your devotion to the people of Russia.”  Two hours later he told Defense Ministry officers: “you and your comrades had a special part to play in this. Special words of gratitude go to you…Once again, thank you for what you did for Russia, for the country and for our people.  

Putin’s past tense is also the future tense.

Listen to Chris Cook asking the questions and the discussion which follows on today’s Gorilla Radio broadcast. Click to open the link [9], starting at Minute 28: 


Source: https://gorilla-radio.com/ [9]

For a semi-official Russian account of what happened in Rostov when Prigozhin was there last Saturday,  read this piece published yesterday in Vzglyad. This reports Shoigu’s presence in the city at the time; the advance knowledge at the General Staff of Prigozhin’s threats, intentions,  plans, and force capacities [11].  

The inventory of the initial official searches of Prigozhin’s St Petersburg offices and vehicles uncovered five kilogrammes of cocaine, about Rb4 billion in cash, gold bullion bars, barrels of US dollars, several false passports, pistols, and records of offshore transactions in the Central African Republic and elsewhere. Prigozhin, speaking before Putin made public his comment on stealing,  confirmed [12]the cash and told Fontanka, a St. Petersburg publication, he saw “nothing terrible”.  


Source: https://www.compromat.ru/ [12]

A limited asset inventory for Prigozhin, his family members, associates and frontmen, has been published by the opposition medium, Meduza [14].  They include an office building, hotels, other commercial real estate, residential apartments, media, and food production business. The results of tracing of offshore fund transfers have not been revealed yet.  

Since October 2022, Gorilla Radio has been banned [15] from broadcasting by Radio CFUV 101.9 FM in Victoria, British Columbia.  The Gorilla Radio transcripts are published on the blog [16].  For Chris Cook’s broadcast archive, click to open [17].