Illustration photo – Logo of the private military organization (Russian paramilitary organization) Wagner Group or Wagner Army, the Wagner family founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin in St. Petersburg on November 4, 2022.
Moscow – The governor of Russia's Sverdlovsk region got into a dispute with Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary Wagner group. Prigozhin accused the leadership of this region of refusing to bury with honors the soldiers who died fighting in Ukraine. Governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev told him not to poke his nose into the affairs of the regional administration. The Russian-language service of the BBC wrote that this dispute may indicate the weakening of Prigozhin's political position.
“There are regions that openly harm the special military operation and do not support it,” Prigozhin wrote. Russia calls the war in Ukraine a special military operation, in which Prigozhin's Wagner group is largely involved. “For example, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug or the Sverdlovsk Region, where the local authorities refuse to bury soldiers who died for their homeland with honors,” Prigozhin also said. “It's a complete injustice,” he added.
Kuyvashev said on the regional portal 66.ru that Prigozhin could not leave the Sverdlovsk region alone, “every time it is harder and harder for him to come up with something that he could grab, how to offend our region”. “It is unfair that you, Yevgeniy, poke your nose into regional administration and personnel politics. If every businessman who earns money from school meals tries to run the country, we will not get far,” the governor also said. He told Prigozhin to continue “making meatballs and cooking pasta” and “we will solve it ourselves in the regions”.
The BBC reminds that Prigozhin's catering company in the past made money by delivering meals to school canteens and received orders from the Kremlin. That is why Prigozhin earned the nickname “Putin's chef”. He has previously criticized the leadership of the Sverdlovsk Region in connection with the appointment of a new director of the Yekaterinburg Historical Museum.
Political scientist Abbas Gallyamov considers this public rebuke of Prigozhin to be evidence of the weakening of his position, which some analysts have recently pointed out. It is believed that Kuyvashev coordinated his response to the head of Wagner's group with the deputy chief of staff of President Vladimir Putin, Sergei Kiriyenko, and it is likely that he wrote it at his request. Gallyamov, a political scientist who used to write speeches for Putin, was recently put on the list of “foreign agents,” a derogatory term for people and organizations that the government in Moscow believes are engaged in political activity with foreign support or under foreign auspices influence.
Prigozhin was absent from President Putin's state of the country address on Tuesday, which the Russian leader delivered to members of parliament and other members of the ruling elite.