Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death has been foretold many times before. The prophesies show sharp escalation particularly after the Wagner mercenary group’s head launched his brief mutiny against Russian president Vladimir Putin in June. Though laws disagree with this sort of inferencing with links, they are helpless when all available evidences point towards the involvement of the Russian dictator in the sudden crash of the aircraft Mr Prigozhin was travelling. The crash failed to offer any shock-value as most Russologists had seen this coming. The only surprise was that the crash came sooner than expected.

The Crash is not an Accident

No doubt, Mr Putin is the final arbiter of retribution in his reign of remorselessness. The August 23rd jet crash, coming two months after the mutiny, the first major threat in his 23-year rule, proves Mr Putin decides everything in Russia. Mr Prigozhin’s business jet crashed within 30 minutes of the take-off, killing all the ten on board. Mr Prigozhin and his colleague Dimitry Utkin, who marched on Moscow in June, were among the passengers. crash-north-moscow-tass-2023-08-23/ This does not sound like coincidence.

The loud explosions that preceded the crash too, in a way, confirms this is most likely to be the handiwork the Russian air forces. Not many are prepared to accept the theory that the crash was an accident. In the run-up to the days leading to the crash, tempers were running high among Russian military officers against Mr Prigozhin’s backstabbing. This had many of them wanting to see the intrepid boss of the Wagner dead. strikes-back/

Video Courtesy: YouTube/WION

Too Much of Other Coincidences

Chief among them was Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister. Mr Shoigu had been regularly targeted by Mr Prigozhin through his fiery videos. Yet, doing away with Mr Prigozhin could not have been done without Mr Putin’s tacit approval. Even as early as in June, Ukraine’s military espionage chief Kyrylo Budanov stated Russia’s Federal Security service aka FSB had been asked to assassinate Mr Prigozhin. Nothing happens in Russia without Putin’s hand in it.

There were too much of other coincidences. Earlier, on August 23rd, General Sergei Surovikin was relieved as commander of Russia’s air forces. General Surovikin was proximate to Mr Prigozhin and was under Mr Putin’s watch and under house arrest as Mr Putin suspected his hand too in the Mr Prigozhin mutiny. As more such coincidences emerge, the suspense over the jet crash is bound to lift.

Biggest Fallout will be in Russia

Will Mr Prigozhin’s death impact the frontlines of the Ukraine War? Putin says no. General Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s chief of general staff and a butt of Mr Prigozhin’s frequent asides, had set the Russian house in order. Post-Bakhmut, the Wagners had been relegated back. After Ukraine’s counteroffensive, the Wagners lost their shock-and-awe value for Putin. With their pronounced political loyalties, they had become a strict no-no for the frontlines. victory-how-important-is-bakhmut

However, in many African nations, where the Wagners have an active presence, the mood is one of uncertainty. Mr Prigozhin had been to Africa to stop Russia’s intel agency GRU from ejecting the Wagners out of the continent. However viewed, the biggest fallout of Mr Prigozhin’s death will be in Russia. If the crash happened on Mr Putin’s orders, Mr Prigozhin’s death would confirm Mr Putin is a vindictive dictator who cares little about rules.

Bring Them to Order with Disorder

Since his ascension to the throne, Mr Putin has used exotic ways to torture – from radioactive isotopes dropped in a hot beverage to nerve agents smeared on door handles. While making his opponents submit, he cared two hoots about how he achieved his objective. All these prove Russia is a mafia venture. The very fact Mr Putin brought in the mercenary Wagner proves he banks too much on irregular institutions and informal relations. emerges.html

When they go sour, just bump them off. Paradoxically, when things get into disorder, Putin brings them to order with a war or a conflict or a murder. Simply, Putin uses disorder to bring about order. Viewed from this perspetive, Mr Prigozhin’s death may help Mr Putin consolidate his power. But it could also at the same time bolster the myth that facts-spilling Mr Prigozhin was a patriot. This is not good news for Mr Putin, who is scared of truth.

The Death has Downsides for Putin

For sure, not good news because it would shake Russia’s Putinists. Typical of a dictator, as the jet crashed, nationalist Putin was addressing crowds in Kursk, hailing the victory of the Soviets over Nazi Germans 80 years ago. Later, the Putin administration launched a probe into traffic-and-safety violations. The idea is to build a façade to make Russians believe that the crash was due to the pilot’s error of breaching the safety protocol. Used to such duplicities, Russians know how much to believe Mr Putin.

So Mr Prigozhin is dead, as Grey Zone, a Telegram account associated with the Wagner group, said that he had been killed. With this, Mr Putin emerges stronger. The major threat to his staying in power is now gone. However, he will soon realise Mr Prigozhin’s death has huge downsides for him. The death cracks open weakening links in his despotic chain. Mr Putin is a megalomaniac who lives under the delusion of being an infallible super power and this delusion is gradually wearing off.

The Poliphoon’s Last Word

Mr Putin’s decadent empire, running on graft and lies, violence and vendetta, cannot go on for ever. At Lake Tahoe, American president Joe Biden was queried if he thought Mr Putin was behind the crash. “There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind,” he shot back. “But I don’t know enough to know the answer.” Mr Biden should not have sounded so apologetic. Does anyone know enough in Mr Putin’s Russia?