The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Government by criminal gangs

While "nobody knows nothin'" about why Yevgeny Prigozhin started or stopped his march on Moscow over the weekend, it exposed the horrible truth that under Vladimir Putin, Russia has become a failed, captured state governed by gangs:

Prigozhin, like Putin, was born and raised in Leningrad, which was renamed St. Petersburg as the Soviet Union was crumbling. As a young man, Prigozhin was a petty criminal and was eventually arrested and sentenced to twelve years in prison for robbing apartments. He was released after nine years. The rest of his biography resembles that of so many around Putin. After making some money selling hot dogs at the local flea market, he got involved in the grocery business, then casinos, construction, catering, and restaurants. He formed a close relationship with Putin, a frequent diner at his establishments, and that put him in a position to increase his good fortune. Private planes, helicopters, and immense residences soon followed—as did the founding of troll farms in St. Petersburg and the Wagner Group, a military contractor that was heartily supported by Putin as a way to help assist Russian Army troops.

In the early days of his reign, Putin was known in the West mainly for his background in the K.G.B. But his popular appeal also had to do with his ability to exploit the street swagger and the language of his days as a kid who played and fought in the poorer courtyards of his home town. Putin was not afraid to make cutting jokes or use profanity in public appearances. He promised to kill enemies in their “outhouses.” This distinguished him, back then, as a man close to ground, close to the narod, the people.

[Kremlin reporter Mikhail Zygar explains], “The F.S.B. [a successor to the K.G.B.] and G.R.U. [military intelligence] is not a single clan; it is a mixture of different clans, and we will see how they are going to react. For years, Putin has selected his inner circle with only one criterion: a lack of ambition. They are not the best of the best. They are the worst of the worst. So how will such mediocrities face up to one desperately brave person, or a desperately brave group of terrorists? We will see.”

It's a bit sobering to think of Don Corleone controlling 3,000 nuclear weapons, isn't it? Meanwhile, no one has heard from Prigozhin since Saturday...

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