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regular-article-logo Saturday, 22 June 2024

Kremlin attempts to project normality after Wagner mercenary group rebellion

Prigozhin, once a close ally and confidant of Putin, had for months publicly criticised Shoigu and other military leaders, accusing them of mismanaging the war in Ukraine

Andrés R. Martínez, Valerie Hopkins New York Published 27.06.23, 08:10 AM
Yevgeny Prigozhin

Yevgeny Prigozhin File Photo

Russia on Monday released a video of defence minister Sergei K. Shoigu for the first time since the short-lived uprising by the Wagner mercenary group over the weekend, saying he had met with forces at a command post involved in the fighting in Ukraine. The defence ministry did not specify when or where the visit occurred.

Shoigu was briefed by Yevgeny Nikiforov, the head of Russian forces in Ukraine, about the situation on the front lines, the defence ministry said on the Telegram app. The ministry posted a video showing Shoigu looking out the window of a plane as another person points outside. He is then seen being briefed by other officials and looking at maps and other documents on a table, although there is no sound, and he is not shown with any troops.

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Though it created as many questions as answers, the video appeared to be an effort by the Kremlin to show that Shoigu remained in his post and to project a return to normalcy after a mutiny that sowed questions about the stability of President Vladimir V. Putin’s government. Moscow’s mayor on Monday also ended the restrictions in the city and announced that school graduation ceremonies would take place this weekend.

No senior Russian official has appeared in public since the end of the rebellion led by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, in which fighters from his Wagner private military company captured a key Russian military installation in the south and moved nearly halfway towards Moscow, the capital, posing the biggest threat to Putin’s rule in more than two decades. Putin still has not been seen since giving a five-minute address to the nation on Saturday, in which he promised to crush the rebellion.

Prigozhin, once a close ally and confidant of Putin, had for months publicly criticised Shoigu and other military leaders, accusing them of mismanaging the war in Ukraine and starving his troops of ammunition.

New York Times News Service

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