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Weeklies on Wagner mutiny

July 3rd, 2023

Analysts agree that the abortive attempt by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin to march on Moscow revealed weaknesses within the Putin regime. One pro-government commentator accuses the opposition of rooting for the head of the Wagner group.

In his regular weekly opinion piece in Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta writes that the likes of Wagner’s botched coup usually happen in backward places like Sudan, Chad or North Yemen and the world public usually has no idea what the stakes are. The fact that such a thing could happen in Russia, he adds, means that Putin’s country now belongs to the Third World. People in the West often considered Putin a grandmaster of power politics but have now had to reconsider after the Russian leader placed a whole army in the hands of a former convict who recruited some of his soldiers from prisons. Putin’s admirers, he remarks, also thought that his regime was a valid alternative to democracy, but now have to realise that such an alternative leads to bankruptcy and directly into central Africa.

In their first-page editorial, the editors of Magyar Narancs find it telling that on arrival in big Russian cities, the mercenary army was met by cheering inhabitants as if the silent masses of Russians saw in them a force that would liberate them from tyranny. The slow reaction of the authorities, the editors continue, showed deep cracks within what they call ‘a fascist dictatorship waging a war of conquest’. They believe the earth has cracked under President Putin’s feet and the only question is how many civilians, soldiers, Ukrainians and Russians have to perish before he falls.

In Demokrata, Gábor Stier admits that the Kremlin managed to prevent a fatal clash but the fact alone that thousands of rebellious soldiers could cover 700 km before turning back represents a huge loss of prestige for the government. Those events, he writes, have shown the weak side of the Russian leadership and proved again that Vladimir Putin is over hesitating at critical moments. The 22 hours of the failed coup, he concludes, certainly damaged his image as a strong leader.

In Mandiner, Zoltán Veczán lambast Hungarian left-wingers who ‘went to bed for a single night’ with Yevgeny Prigozhin, whom they had condemned until then as a vile butcher. In more general terms, he suspects that those who root for Ukraine in the war do so to combat their own frustration at home. At the same time, he also condemns a ‘smaller group’ who write pro-Moscow comments on the web in the vain hope that, in exchange, Putin will return the Transcarpathian region to Hungary.

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