Prigozhin’s wild gamble didn’t pay off and now he’s landed in Belarus as part of the deal to thwart his revolt.
The Economist reported that his soldiers were offered 3 options — sign up with the Russian military, go home or join Prigozhin in exile in Belarus.
None are good choices. Wherever they go they are marked men.
Belarus, swarming with Russian spies, is no safe haven.
Prigozhin and all Wagner group soldiers who took part in the march on Moscow, should be very vigilant.
Better be as far away from Putin and his henchmen, Belarus’s Lukashenko being no exception.
One of the things Prigozhin has done with his revolt is expose the extent of the rot in Russia’s politics.
For some time now, the world has had the clear sense that Putin is a thug. Not only him but those around him. Now it is extra clear.
Russians are asking themselves, ‘what have we allowed? What were we thinking? How come we didn’t have free elections? Why didn’t we take seriously what Alexei Navalny was saying all along, with his tenacious campaign against Putin? Why have we not protested Navalny’s imprisonment?’
Putin will rule on, for now, but it will be with greater repression. More and more people will be going to jail or Siberia or simply disappeared.
Prigozhin had felt himself undermined by those who had Putin’s ear. He and his Wagner group had grown too popular with their tenacity in the battlefield (at enormous cost in lives) and needed to have their wings trimmed.
Prigozhin should have had a conversation with Putin to see where he stood but for whatever reason it didn’t happen. So he rolled the dice.
Now he’s on the way down and fast.
The Lukashenko offer of a haven in Belarus is a trick. Prigozhin is deluded if he thinks that will last. Very soon he will be taken in for questioning, then sent back to Russia for talks.
He’ll be lucky if he comes out in one piece.
The likelihood is that Putin will make an example of him and so dissuade other coup plotters.
But a window of opportunity has opened.
The severity of internal discord in Russia opens a chance for Ukraine to push harder to regain their territories. Soldiers in Putin’s forces are likely to be questioning ever more the reason for the fight and risking their lives. To defend what? A government teeming with corruption?
Prigozhin’s effort was a desperate attempt to not be marginalized but he lost his nerve somewhere on the road to Moscow. He was only about 200 km away from it.