Putin has lost his superpowers as guarantor of stability. The public opinion that counts, that of the richer classes close to the president, is in turn supported by a network of military bloggers. Who constitute the most open form of expression. All pro-war, but very critical of how the war is going.
Putin receives internal criticism
Those run by ex-military men, while rooting for the Russian army, have recorded and criticised everything that was wrong with the war in Ukraine.
Incompetent commanders, corrupt officers, teenagers sent into the meat mincer without proper weapons or training. Also, very low morale from which all the defeats resulted before Prigozhin took the field.
This former comrade of Putin, never military in his life, with his Wagner mercenaries was the only one to have won battles with the Ukrainians. The last one in Bakhmut, which is now back in Ukrainian hands.
Russian oligarchs fly to Israel and Turkey
The patriotic and military bloggers are very well connected to Putin’s first round of oligarchs. They are all the ones who, between Friday night and Saturday morning jumped on their jets to flee to Tel Aviv or Ankara and then embarked for somewhere safe.
The bloggers’ network drew a logical conclusion from this. If the front line of Putin’s beneficiaries flee when there is a need if not to fight, at least to be visible, this means they smell shipwreck and are cowards.
So, when asked whether Vladimir Putin emerges from this armed rebellion stronger or more fragile, the answer not from his enemies. But from his supporters is that Putin has weakened.
And the people of the patriotic ex-military with freedom to express their opinion declare themselves stunned by the absences. Then recovered. For almost twenty-four hours Putin disappeared to reappear on video without certification of date and time.
So did Defence Minister Shoigu and Commander Gerasimov. Prigozhin, the public enemy number one who is not clear whether he is the victor or the vanquished, also seemed to have disappeared. Then reappearing at the piano bar of a Minsk hotel.
Is Putin weaker after the Wagner Group revolt?
The military and patriotic community is so disaffected that some go so far as to question Vladimir Putin’s suitability to stand as his own party’s sole candidate in next year’s elections.
Putin sensed immediately how much he was risking when the rebellion began. And now everyone knows that it was he who begged his Belarusian subject Lukashenko, Prigozhin’s old crony, to do anything to stop the rebel by offering him impunity. And this the patriots do not understand or forgive.
The text of the first phone call Lukashenko made to Prigozhin has been released. During which the two former comrades acknowledged each other in a turpilogue ‘that their mothers would cry about’ in the camaraderie of old swindlers.
And they made the deal on which the Moscow tsar had hung all his hopes. And when Prigozhin publicly announced to the Russians and the world his retreat and renunciation of occupation of Moscow, the Belarusian news agency ‘Bela’ reported that Putin had rushed to thank the Minsk dictator. On whose lands Putin had just deployed atomic weapons with which to threaten nuclear catastrophe.
Prigozhin’s post on Telegram
Finally, what Prigozhin said politically embarrasses Putin’s circle. He posted on his Telegram channel what he believes is evidence of the total illegitimacy of the invasion of Ukraine.
Pure inventions, Prigozhin wrote. There was no fear for the Donbass, no neo-Nazi danger in Mariupol, no suppressed uprising in the self-proclaimed republics.
Everything had been invented, according to Prigozhin, to make Ukraine the terrain of a mafia ‘racket’ for the benefit of the Kremlin’s men.