For many, the death of Wagner Boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin doesn’t come as a surprise. In fact as soon as he staged a mutiny, which he said was against Russia’s military leadership, on June 24, 2023, people feared that something could happen to him sooner or later.
He literally signed his own death warrant and with each passing day, his time left on earth quickly ebbed like sand running between one’s fingers.
Knowing the kind of person at the helm of affairs in Russia now, William Burns, CIA Director, said last month that Russian President, Vladimir Putin is the ultimate apostle of payback so he would be surprised if Prigozhin “escapes further retribution.”
I would not be wrong to call Burns the prophet of Prigozhin’s doom as his prediction is staring at the world in the face.
Prigozhin gave Putin the greatest fright of his life and he has been served the cold dish of revenge. The fact that a number of Wagner top members were also affected in the “accident” points all the more to the allegation that the plane crash was not a coincidence but “Putincidence.”
I have coined the term “Putincidence” to mean that Putin or at least someone or some people loyal to him had a hand in this death.
Over the years, any one who was a fierce critic of Putin in one way or the other has either encountered death under bizarre circumstances or escaped death by a hair. Anna Politkovskaya, Boris Nemtsov and Alexander Litvinenko are on the list of dead detractors.
Even though Putin has never taken responsibility for the deaths of his detractors, many of them occurred after these people made public critiques of Putin.
Currently, Alexey Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza, both critics of Putin are in jail.
If people have lost their lives just for the comments they made, how much more a public affront, which Putin felt threatened by?
Despite the Kremlin’s refutal of speculations that Putin is behind Progozhin’s death, past incidents point to the fact that Putin or person(s) connected to him contributed to it.
And once again, Prigozhin’s death has proven that you can not rise up against or criticise a despot and go scot free. Now, Putin is the only despot in Europe, his stauch ally, Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian President, having staged a huge clamp down on opposition, fits the bill.
These people entrench themselves in power and would not entertain opposition or criticism. Putin has been President since 2012 and Lukahenko has been in power for 29 years.
Despots are not only limited to Europe, even Africa has a number of them. Some African rulers have altered constitutions and stifled opposition so as to maintain their political seats. For instance, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, ruler of Equatorial Guinea, as well as President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni who amended his country’s constitution to remove the President’s age limit.
Wagner Operations In Africa Will Continue Under Different Direction
Days before his death, Prigozhin was spotted in a video saying that Wagner group was “making Russia even greater on every continent – and Africa even more free.”
Following the announcement of Prigozhin’s plane crash, questions pertaining to the fate of his mercenary group arose.
Meanwhile, Putin had said during the Russia-Africa summit, “Russia and Africa are united by an innate desire to defend true sovereignty and the right to their own distinctive path of development in the political, economic, social, cultural and other spheres,” pointing to the fact that Russia is very much interested in Africa.
Employing the Wagner troops can be a good way for Russia to have influence in Africa.
Wagner troops have been providing security services in Mali, Central African Republic and Sudan. Wagner has had a presence in Sudan since 2017, overseeing gold mining concessions in addition to security services.
The group is an attractive alternative for military governments in the region.
One must not forget that Prigozhin was not the only victim of the crash. Dmitry Utkin, who helped to found the Wagner group and managed Wagner’s military operations and other Wagner members were onboard the ill-fated aircraft.
For Prigozhin and top Wagner officials to die at the same time translates to wiping out the entire Wagner leadership in a single attempt.
With the leadership non-existent, it becomes easy for Putin to assume leadership over the mercenary group.
Putin has already ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state, a way of bringing the group under his leadership.
Wagner under putin will be quite restrictive and they will be keenly watched as the Russian leader wouldn’t want wagner fighters “getting any ideas.”
Putin can use them to bolster Russian presence in Africa and well as champion Moscow’s “special operation.”
As such, it is only logical to think that Wagner fate is not doomed but rather headed in a direction which was not Prigozhin’s.