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Defiant Prigozhin refuses to lay down arms, lambasts “corruption” that plagues Russia’s imperial conquests

Prigozhin Rostov Wagner
Screenshot from a video claiming to show Prigozhin in Rostov.
Defiant Prigozhin refuses to lay down arms, lambasts “corruption” that plagues Russia’s imperial conquests

PMC Wagner chief Prigozhin has confirmed his path of a military insurrection, dispelling ideas that he and his fighters will lay down arms after announcing a “march for justice” on Moscow. In an audio address, he lambasted the “bureaucracy” and “corruption” that he claims has undermined Russia’s expansion in Ukraine and Africa, and stated that Wagner fighters are the “patriots” and those opposing them are “scoundrels.” The latter, apparently, includes Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has vowed to put an end to the “armed rebellion” of Prigozhin. Here is the translation of the address:

“The president is profoundly mistaken about treason to the Motherland. We are patriots of our homeland, we have fought and we continue to fight. All of the Wagner PMC fighters, and no one intends to come and confess at the behest of the president, the FSB, or anyone else. Because we don’t want the country to continue living in corruption, deception, and bureaucracy.

When we were fighting in Africa, we were told that we needed Africa, but after that it was abandoned because all the money intended for aid was stolen. When we were told that we were at war with Ukraine, we went and fought. But it turned out that the ammunition, the weapons, all the money allocated for them, were also stolen.

And the bureaucrats sit, hoarding them for themselves, exactly for the occasion that is happening today, when someone is marching on Moscow. Now they don’t save anything, they bomb the columns with civilians, using planes and helicopters. They bomb civilians because they miss and just bomb wherever.

Therefore, we are patriots, and those who oppose us today are the ones who have gathered around scoundrels.”

Wagner feud: what happened earlier

In the night of 23 June, Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin accused the Russian MoD of striking a Wagner camp and announced a “march for justice,” vowing to “stop” Moscow’s top military leadership.

Russia’s official bodies denied any accusations of a strike on Wagner’s rear; the Russian FSB opened a criminal case against Prigozhin and Russia’s top brass called upon Wagner fighters to defy Prigozhin’s orders.

In the morning of 24 June, Prigozhin, who started his career as “Putin’s chef,” claimed control over military objects in Rostov-on-Don, a city that serves as the headquarters for Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine, stating that the Chief of General Staff ran away when he saw Wagner fighters approaching.

A conflict between Prigozhin and the Russian MoD has been months in the making, and Russian military leaders have sought to limit the role of the leader of Wagner, a private military company that has played a key role in Russia’s assault on Ukrainian cities.

Prigozhin had defied a demand by Russian Defense Ministry that Wagner Group members sign contracts directly, highlighting a deepening conflict within the Russian establishment. Instead, Prigozhin drafted his own “contract” and said he was awaiting an answer from Russia’s military leadership for it. Meanwhile, the deadline for the volunteer fighters to sign contracts with the MoD, 1 July, “is likely to be a key way-point in the feud,” the British intelligence assessed.

Vladimir Putin has vowed to stop the “armed rebellion” of Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Wagner’s columns are reportedly moving on Moscow after bypassing Voronezh.

The UK Intelligence has called Prigozhin’s uprising the greatest recent challenge to the Russian state.

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