Is Evgeny Prigozhin capable of attempting to mount a coup against Putin?

John Wight
3 min readMay 24
Evgeny Prigozhin

“I think the King is but a man, as I am.” William Shakespeare

There appears to be mounting evidence that the head of the notorious Russian Wagner Private Military group, Evgeny Prigozhin, is angling for Putin’s place in the Kremlin.

His bombastic tirades, via video, against the Russian military leadership and their handling of the so-called Special Military Operation in Ukraine had already become commonplace during the brutal struggle to take the town of Bakhmut in the Donbass, just north of Donetsk.

Tirelessly he openly and venomously attacked Russia’s head of defence, Sergei Shoigu and his deputy Valery Gerasimov, accusing them of everything from incompetence to criminal negligence for their alleged failure to provide his Wagner troops with sufficient support and ammunition. Notably none of said tirades have met with any consequences for Putin’s former personal chef.

Now most recently, however — and for the first time — Prigozhin has taken Putin himself to task. During a long interview with Russian military blogger Konstantin Dolgov, the Wagner chief stated that Putin’s intention of demilitarising Ukraine has had the precise opposite effect of militarising it with advanced NATO weapons.

‘So the de-nazification of Ukraine, which we announced — we made Ukraine a nation, known to everyone around the globe,’ he said. ‘They are like Greeks at their peak, or Romans.’ He continued: ‘We legitimised Ukraine, it became a country which is known to everyone.

‘As for de-militarisation… [this is] a painful issue indeed. So if they had at the start of it 500 tanks — now they have 5,000. If there were 20,000 men who were able to fight — now there are 400,000. So how exactly did we demilitarise it?’

The fact that Prigozhin felt emboldened enough to openly criticise and berate Putin’s judgment marks an astonishing act of defiance on the part of the most open and vocal leader involved in Russia’s war…

John Wight

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