Kremlin admits Wagner mercenary boss nicknamed ‘Putin’s chef’ is at risk of assassination
Russia has admitted that the fearsome boss of the Wagner mercenary group is at risk of assassination. Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed ‘Putin’s chef’ after providing catering services to the Kremlin, heads up the despot’s private army which carries out his dirty work at arm’s length from the state. The warlord’s 50,000 fighters have been accused of a litany of war crimes and their successes in Ukraine have led to a power struggle between the oligarch and Putin. Prigozhin said yesterday he had been briefed that Volodymyr Zelensky and CIA director William Burns had discussed the possibility of assassinating him. And asked today in a press conference, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the Wagner chief is at risk. Pictured: Yevgeny Prigozhin is providing catering services to Vladimir Putin in 2011.
He said: ‘This is more of a question for the special services. But as for assassination attempts, Ukraine is involved in both assassination attempts and an absolutely monstrous murder. Let’s remember the assassination attempts that took place. Let’s remember the murder of [Daria] Dugina and so forth. The involvement of the Kyiv regime in such assassination attempts is obvious, so there is such a danger to our citizens.’ Vladimir Rogov, a puppet leader in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, made the initial claims about Western collusion to oust Prigozhin. Pictured: Ukrainian servicemen fire a 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun toward Russian positions in Bakhmut.
He said, referencing an apparent meeting between the Ukrainian president and the CIA director: ‘One of the requests Zelensky made was the murder of the Wagner boss, Mr Prigozhin.’ The Wagner chief then joked that killing him is a ‘very good idea,’ relishing his status. Some believe that an even greater threat to his safety lies in Moscow than in Ukraine. Prigozhin recently dismissed Putin’s generals as a ‘bunch of clowns’ and has boasted that his mercenary army is superior to the Russian Armed Forces.
His relations with Putin are increasingly strained, say reports, but Prigozhin continues to taunt the Kremlin president and his army top brass as his Wagner mercenaries and Ukrainian forces remain locked in battle over the city of Bakhmut. The Wagner boss claimed his ragbag fighters, who are mostly convicts plucked from prison and put into uniforms, have achieved heroics greater than Soviet soldiers at the Battle of Stalingrad (pictured), a key military turning point in the Second World War.
He has also openly mocked General Valery Gerasimov – the Russian commander-in-chief – who ordered that Russian soldiers should shave off their beards as part of a discipline drive in the armed forces. Russia’s defense chiefs were ‘a bunch of clowns’ seeking the ‘glamorization of the army,’ raged Prigozhin, a Soviet-era jail inmate who rose to fame arranging banquets and managing online troll factories for Putin. Pictured: Prigozhin in footage speaking to Wagner fighters.
‘Female war correspondents go into the absolute heat of [war],’ said Prigozhin. ‘Jail inmates fight better than units of the Guards. Servicemen with broken spines pass on their military experience at training camps, moving around like robots. And a bunch of clowns try to teach fighters exhausted with hard military labor how many times they ought to shave — and what kind of perfume they must use to greet high commanders.’ He hit out: ‘I believe we must introduce legal restrictions, and the harshest punishment with a jail term of up to 50 years for the glamorization of the army.’ Pictured: Prigozhin, left, and Putin together in 2010.
He backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a Russian colonel-general, who has also sent thousands of fighters to Ukraine – many of them Muslim, like him, with beards. Kadyrov said: ‘I can only imagine the sense of astonishment among our fighters, who didn’t know about such a dangerous enemy in their ranks as facial hair. Drop your machine guns, let’s go and shave. The Nazis can just wait a while discussing their fascist business (a reference to the Kremlin’s repeated false claims that Ukraine is run by a Nazi government). As if there are no problems at the front. What kind of stupid thing is this?’ It amounted to ‘a provocation meant to stifle the morale of [Russian] fighters.’ He blamed loyalist MP and Gerasimov ally Lt General Viktor Sobolev over the blunder after he suggested shaving was ‘an elementary requirement of military discipline.’ Progozhin said: ‘I take this opportunity to ask you, Ramzan, to grow your beard twice as long, for yourself and for me.’ Prigozhin also doubled down on his boast that his Wagner force – which includes murderers, sexual assailants, robbers and fraudsters – had taken the town Soledar from Ukraine without the help of Russia’s conventional forces, dressing up the achievement as superior to the epic history book Red Army success in Stalingrad, now Volgograd. Pictured: Scenes of destruction are seen in video footage from Soledar.
Earlier this month, Prigozhin bragged that his fighters had single-handedly taken control of the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar, which has been razed by fighting. He declared Wagner was probably ‘the most experienced army in the world today.’ His rant came as he addressed convicts who had served six months in the war zone, who he pardoned from their convictions under a secret decree from Putin. ‘I have come to say thank you for what you have done, from myself….and from the motherland…,’ said Prigozhin. ‘You have gone through six months of hard warfare. Neither your grandfathers, nor great-grandfathers, were involved in such battles [in World War Two]. Those who were at Soledar know that even Stalingrad pales in comparison, so thank you. The Motherland and our people are in debt to you.’ He urged the newly liberated criminals to forget their past lives but also the barbarism of war as they return to civilian life. They should keep their ‘adrenaline inside’ and forget what they had learned at the front. Pictured: A man wearing a camouflage uniform walks out of PMC Wagner Center during the official opening of the office block in Saint Petersburg, Nov. 4.
In civilian life ‘there are no enemies, everyone’s a friend.’ After facing online mockery for his Stalingrad comparison, he posted videos which he said showed similar devastation. The Battle of Stalingrad lasted from August 23rd, 1942 to February 2nd, 1943, resulting in millions of deaths. Russia’s victory was a key blow to Hitler. ‘I treat the history of our ancestors with respect, but here are videos I made from a car window when approaching Soledar,’ said Prigozhin. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said this week that Prigozhin’s ‘advertising’ of the ‘superiority and successes of his own troops’ had become ‘overbearing and ostentatiously swaggering’ and was grating with Putin. Pictured: Wagner boss Prigozhin in one of the salt mines in Soledar, Ukraine.
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