Wagner chief defends ‘protest’ as Russia claims return to normal

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin characterized his failed rebellion on Monday as an attempt to salvage his mercenary company and expose Russia’s military leadership’s inadequacies, rather than to threaten the Kremlin.

The rebel warlord’s first audio message since putting off his troops’ attack on Moscow was issued as Russian officials attempted to portray a return to normalcy to the public.

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Fighting resumed in Ukraine, as Kyiv’s military claimed new wins in their drive to oust Russian troops from the country’s east and south, but authorities in Moscow suspended their intensified security regime.

Prigozhin, speaking from an unknown location, stated in an internet audio clip that his insurrection was designed to prevent his Wagner army from being destroyed, and boasted that the ease with which it had moved on Moscow exposed “serious security problems.”

The mercenary leader, a former close supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has a long-standing dispute with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, and has urged their dismissal for the Ukraine campaign’s conduct.

“We went to demonstrate our protest and not to overthrow power in the country,” Prigozhin said, boasting that his men had “blocked all military infrastructure” including air bases along their route towards a point less than 200 kilometres from Moscow.

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