Deceased Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin reportedly made a last-ditch attempt to win back Vladimir Putin's approval before his short-lived mutiny in Russia.
Back in June, Prigozhin ordered his fighters-for-hire to abandon the Ukraine war effort and march on Moscow. Fuming about progress in Ukraine, their goal was to oust key figures from Russia's Defence Ministry.
Prigozhin dramatically U-turned on the mutiny. Months later he wound up dead in a plane crash, which some of his supporters claimed was an assassination for the humiliation he had brought on the Russian government. Some in Moscow were said to be concerned with his growing influence in Russia long before the mutiny.
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According to new reports, Prigozhin planned to deliver an astonishing speech at Russia's State Duma the day before he launched the mutiny.
The Moscow Times reports a group of Russian MPs gathered that evening and delivered their own speeches criticising the Defence Ministry's lack of support for mobilisation efforts. They apparently suggested introducing government bonds and a state monopoly on booze in a bid to raise funds for the Ukraine war effort.
Sources told the publication that Prigozhin secretly planned to appear at the State Duma and deliver a scathing attack on the military's top brass. The report describes this as a "last-ditch attempt to win back Putin’s approval".
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However, the plan was mysteriously scrapped at the last minute. And Prigozhin launched his mutiny the following day.
A source said: "He was going to voice the whole array of problems with the SVO [special military operation], with the Defence Ministry, the real number of casualties among our fighters, etc."
State run media outlets were reportedly told to restrict mentions of Prigozhin as both his influence and criticism of Russia's Defence Ministry grew. He saw his access to the Russian government cut off. A source told The Moscow Times that his planned speech at the State Duma was "an opportunity to jump into the last carriage of a departing train".
Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the publication: "Both the secret preparation of the failed Duma speech and his march on Moscow are attempts to regain the president's favour. He did not want to take power, but to show his capabilities. But he chose the wrong way and miscalculated."
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