Putin Tries to Rewrite the Story of What Happened With Wagner Mutiny

During the day-long uprising of the mercenary warlords against the Russian army, President Vladimir V. Putin made a one-time appearance, vowing to take “resolute action” against “betrayal of our people.”

After a five-minute speech, Mr Putin disappeared again and the Russian public questioned his absence during the most dramatic challenge to his rule in 23 years.

But on Tuesday, the Kremlin’s image machine kicked in and Putin suddenly delivered a televised speech. This is an attempt to rewrite what happened and assure the Russian public that Putin is still pulling the levers of power regardless of whether people can see him or not. no.

After delivering an angry address to the nation at around 10pm Moscow time on Monday, Mr Putin met with the Security Council. Sitting nearby was Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. However, he had an empty seat and was not too close. A feud with Wagner Mercenary boss Evgeny Prigozhin led to the rebellion and the March on Moscow.

For months, Prigozhin has accused Shoigu and Russia’s top general Valery V. Gerasimov of meanness, corruption and incompetence in their handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Mr Prigozhin also claims that his uprising was not about Mr Putin, but only for them.

Shoigu’s side with Putin at Security Council meetings showed that he still has enough support to be considered a close aide to the president. Shoigu still has many critics, especially among influential war-promoting bloggers, and whether he will ultimately continue in his post is an open question.

TRIUMPH projection

As the red carpet spreads down the towering staircase and dozens of soldiers line up in front of Putin, Putin said on Tuesday that the military “essentially stopped the civil war” in remarks broadcast in state media. I expressed my gratitude.

The speech ultimately showed Mr. Putin outside a nondescript room and in a specific location: the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square, the historic seat of power. Mr Putin frequented the palace-like buildings and rooms of the Kremlin, a fortified complex in central Moscow, flanked by loyal officers and resembling successive emperors who ruled from within the Kremlin. It has projected an image of a peculiar Russian leader. wall.

The images of victory and heroic rhetoric contrasted with the photos and videos of the weekend, where no one seemed to be in charge. Wagner fighters in armored vehicles breezed into major cities, and Mr. Prigozhin chatted with military officers in the newly opened command center. confiscated.

and, video feed His speech offered a different perspective than photography. In the video, Putin, who has often kept his distance from his ministers, entourage and world leaders since the pandemic, spoke on stage dozens of feet from the soldiers.

Depicting the control

Putin also spoke to Russian soldiers inside the Kremlin, combining images of the modern president sitting at his desk like a workman. It has the luxury and sense of distance of imperial Russia. A statue of the 18th-century Tsar Peter the Great, to whom Putin compared himself last summer, stood behind him.

In his speech, Mr Putin once again thanked the soldiers, saying their actions had averted “complete chaos and civil war”. Emphasizing loyalty, he stressed that Putin’s loyalty to the state, which is always near the Russian flag and is the most prominent representative, is the only way to avoid catastrophe.

The message was in line with the long-standing image and language of Mr Putin, who has for decades described himself as the guardian of stability.

He also said Wagner’s funding was provided entirely through the state. In doing so, despite the fact that Mr. Prigozhin’s fighters overran major cities in a matter of hours and reached within 125 miles of Moscow, the mercenary force was always just a tool of the Kremlin and beyond its control. essentially argued never.

And Mr Putin returned to the subject of Russian state media before Mr Prigozhin’s armed rebellion, trying to present a portrait of his widespread success on the battlefield. He claimed that the Ukrainian counteroffensive had been a fiasco and that Kiev had lost dozens of tanks and more than 100 armored vehicles over the past seven days.

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