The Daily Heller: Vlad, How Was Your Weekend?

Posted inThe Daily Heller

On Saturday, most of us awoke to the news that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the former convict, hot dog entrepreneur and caterer to the Kremlin, who founded and leads the Wagner Group mercenaries, had taken over a Russian military compound. His plan was to lead his column of soldiers of fortune and armored weaponry to Moscow, forcing Vladimir Putin to do who-knows-what. It was a tragicomic echo of the human disaster that is the Russian invasion of, and year-long war with, Ukraine.

The satirist and street artist Adrian Wilson sent out an email with the headline “Fingers Crossed,” which contained the following image:

I was ready to run with the “mutiny” piece today, when my eyes were distracted by David Leonhardt’s summation of the latest crazy turn of events in The New York Times:

“The Russian mercenaries who appeared to be mounting a coup attempt stopped their advance on Moscow, and Putin’s government announced that their leader—Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner, a private military company—would flee to Belarus in exchange for amnesty. The Wagner troops who participated in the uprising would also receive amnesty, and other Wagner troops would be given the option of joining the Russian military or demobilizing, a Kremlin spokesman said.”

Prigozhin questioned Putin’s original motives for the war—”denazification”—and accused the Russian defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, of launching airstrikes on Wagner fighters.

“Prigozhin’s actions were a shocking rebellion,” added Leonhardt, “and the absence of punishment for him seemed to be a potential sign of weakness for Putin. He evidently lacks the military strength or political consensus to arrest somebody who started an armed mutiny against him.”