Tensions between the Wagner mercenary group and the Kremlin rise. The head of Russia’s private army, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has accused officials close to Vladimir Putin in the presidential administration of treason.
Regarding the Kremlin staff, Prigozhin said, according to a statement released on Wednesday, that they are acting as if they are in Putin’s way, but are actually disrupting the course of the war and hoping for a quick end to serve the US if the Russia is defeated. Businessman’s troops fight alongside the Russian army in Ukraine.
At the same time, he demanded that Moscow quickly comply with its demands to block the YouTube video platform. “YouTube is the information plague of our time,” explained the entrepreneur on the Telegram short message service. 40% of the videos are “politicized and directed against Russia”, he says, without providing any evidence. So far, the service has not been blocked in Russia – unlike Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, for example, “because a large number of people working in the presidential administration think only of one thing – that Russia can lose the war as soon as possible”. These people are the “traitors of their people and their country” and “Wagner’s sledgehammer” awaits them in the future, Prigozhin said.
The statement is an allusion to a video published by Wagner, which allegedly shows the murder of a renegade mercenary from his own ranks. Wagner’s fighter first voluntarily went into Ukrainian captivity, but later returned to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange and, according to the video, was killed with a sledgehammer. The clip sparked international outrage. Prigozhin is wanted in the US with a reward for his capture because he is alleged to have interfered in the US presidential election.
There are other reasons why YouTube is still accessible in Russia: The platform is considered essential for both ordinary citizens and the opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, Prigozhin said. “Those who are against the closure of YouTube, in my opinion, are people who are traitors to their people and country, traitors to previous and future generations of Russians. They live abroad, vacation abroad, raise big children abroad, proclaim high values, yet they support and live off the West in every way they can.
Prigozhin demanded that anyone who continued to use the service after YouTube was blocked be punished. Blocking YouTube in Russia in the same way as other social networks blocked on the Internet was already discussed at the beginning of the war. However, the plans came to nothing. For many Russians, who bemoan the manipulation of one-sided propaganda on state television, YouTube is one of the last sources of unimpeded access to a wide variety of information.
Differences between the mercenary chief and the government surfaced on Friday when the Defense Ministry reported the capture of the Ukrainian town of Soledar but did not mention the role of the mercenary organization, which operates outside the army’s chain of command but the supports. (apa/Portal/dpa)