After Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mini-mutiny, prominent Russian state television propagandists grasped at straws, desperate to contain their outrage at what had happened, in order to justify the Kremlin’s decision to hold the Wagner boss and his mercenaries accountable.
Prigozhin’s intended march on Moscow was announced back in May. as he pointed to the inevitable uprising during his media blitz that matched seamlessly self-aggrandizement with endless complaints against the military leadership of Russia.
Despite the signs on the wall, the Wagner Group’s short-lived uprising – officially known as PMC Wagner – took everyone by surprise. The highly decorated state television presenter Vladimir Solovyov was shocked and dismayed on the grim state of preparations in the country This allowed Prigozhin’s forces to roll across the country unhindered. Solovyov appeared to be in a bind, having to justify Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to release Prigozhin and Wagner, despite his support for the death penalty for less serious crimes.
During the first broadcast after the mutiny of Sunday evening with Vladimir Solovyov, propagandists focused on praising Putin’s infinite wisdom for ending the revolt quickly. RT chief Margarita Simonyan claimed, “There is nothing more frightening in the world than civil war.” This outlook inadvertently shed light on frequent discussions in Russia’s state media with hopes of civil war in other countries — particularly the United States.
Simonyan expressed relief at the quick resolution of the ordeal, adding, “There are a lot of discussions at the moment: how can this be?” They opened a criminal case and then let her go! [Prigozhin] left for Belarus. This is a mockery of legal norms! Let me remind you that legal regulations are not like the commandments of Christ or the law of Moses. Legal norms are written by people to protect order and stability in a country. There may be exceptional, critical circumstances in which legal norms no longer work. Then these legal norms will be overridden. They were written without considering the possibility of such a situation.”
Simonyan surmised: “It was a choice between the terrible and the terrible… There is nothing more frightening than civil wars, which are incomparably more significant than the violation of certain legal norms.” Solovyov set aside his daily calls for nuclear attacks and executions and added pompously : “We learned a lot about our own country that day.” It turned out we were a lot smarter than anyone thought… Yesterday our leadership showed strength and wisdom. Most importantly, it demonstrated strength without thirst for blood.”
But State Duma deputy Andrey Gurulyov, retired deputy commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District, was too stunned by Prigozhin’s exploits to follow the propaganda narrative. After a long, angry sigh, Gurulev said, “I firmly believe that traitors must be destroyed in war!” Today, a bullet in the forehead is the only salvation for Prigozhin, and no matter who says what, no matter what fairy tales he tells [Dmitry] utkin You know me! You know I stand behind my every word. There’s no other way!” (Utkin is said to be the co-founder of the Wagner group.)
Gurulyov not only criticized the decision that gave immunity to the organizers and participants of the planned coup, but also expressed his outrage that it was fomented and carried out without being detected and prevented beforehand. He said: “I don’t understand at all why it happened in the first place. Where are these agencies that should have known about this in advance? It should have been prevented, it should have been stopped while it was going on!”
Gurulyov was outraged that the Wagner Group was better equipped than either the Russian Armed Forces or the Russian National Guard: “How much longer are we going to be crowdfunding every loaf of bread, every quadcopter and everything else?” It’s enough! When society banded together to do this, it allowed us to survive at that point because we had nothing! Everything is different now.”
Gurulev contradicted Putin’s decision and reiterated: “Betrayal cannot be forgiven under any circumstances!” It is simply unforgivable, no matter what you have already achieved in the past! I repeat again: the only way out for these friends is to kill themselves first [a] bullet finds her! There are no other options for traitors.”
Lieutenant General Evgeny Buzhinsky added: “For me, what happened yesterday was completely surreal.” Like Gurulev, he was disturbed by the promise of impunity. Referring to reports that Wagner fighters shot down several military helicopters and an airplane, Buzhinsky stressed: “Someone has to be held accountable for the deaths of pilots who died.”
Instead of demonstrating the strength and wisdom of Putin’s regime, Solovyov and his fellow propagandists emphasized its fatal flaws and the discontent brewing not only within their ranks but in society at large. One concern currently permeating the tightly controlled state media is that their country, waging a genocidal war of conquest against its neighbor, is utterly unprepared to withstand internal rebellion or foreign invasion — and no amount of propaganda can cover it up high.