WTF is happening in Russia?
Bear with me, while I explain.
Lately people have been asking me WTF is going on in Russia? Attempted coup? Forgiven rebel leader? General insanity? What’s happening, Gary?
The bigger question here is: who runs Russia? The answer goes back to my hometown of St. Leninsburg where young Putin and his fellow KGB/FSB officers became BFFs with a bunch of clever criminals. The schemes they got entangled in were every bit as goofy as something out of the Sopranos — “oil for food” anyone? — and Putin and his FSB/underworld criminals got super fat off of everything.
By this time, Yeltsin had his own thing going in Moscow with a different set of criminals (or “oligarchs,” as they were coded), but once Putin was chosen to ease out Yeltsin (with the promise of not going after his insanely corrupt family), his siloviki — or security men — began to displace the Original Gangsters by adding Mad Petersburg flavor to the mix. The oligarchs were now basically banking Putin’s money abroad, stealing some while adding more to the pot for Putin’s personal idiotic projects like a mansion on the Black Sea that will never be finished because Russia. But the main benefactors were Putin’s Petersburg security homies and assorted local gangsters.
The silovki, the new elite, kept stealing but they were also imbued with a suspicion of the West as were all former KGB agents. And none more so than Putin himself. Stealing Crimea raised his popularity among Russians, so he decided to take the rest of Ukraine, but that wasn’t going to happen because his defense minister and his banda were stealing from the army left and right and most of the soldiers couldn’t find their socks at that point either because they were too drunk or somebody had stolen and resold them. (There’s another essay to be written on Russian/Soviet army socks, but I don’t got the time.)
Anyhoo, enter Prigozhin. Who is he? Putin’s chef, blah blah blah. But essentially he’s a violent career criminal who went to Russia’s most prestigious university. By that I mean, its prison system. A Petersburg native, he and Putin naturally bonded, and all evidence points to a great deal of fondness for the bald-headed cretin on Putin’s part.
In any case, Prigozhin’s Wagner Group had far more success in its genocidal mission against Ukraine then the actual Russian army. This made Prigozhin a hero among ordinary bloodthirsty Russians, a much larger part of the population than most people realize. And this went to Priogzhin’s head. So — attempted mutiny. Now we must turn to the Sopranos again. Remember when Richie Aprile tried to oust Tony, but then it turned out that no one was going to join him, especially not Junior? That realization hit Prigozhin about 200 miles short of Moscow and things got so bad that even Belarus’s president Lukashenka, who is, for all intents and purposes, intellectually disabled, was called in to broker a ceasefire.
What does this mean for Russia?