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Russian Private Military Contractor, Wagner Group’s Leader Yevgeny Prigozhin Claims Control of Military Sites in Rostov-on-Don, Defying President Putin’s Accusations of Betrayal

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group, has asserted that his mercenaries have taken over “all military facilities” in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. Reports suggest that they have also been deployed in Voronezh, located further north, following Prigozhin’s threat to march on Moscow and remove Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu from power.

President Vladimir Putin has condemned these actions, referring to them as a “stab in the back” and vowing to punish those who have “betrayed” Russia. Security measures have been tightened in numerous regions, including Moscow.

The Wagner Group, known for its involvement alongside the regular Russian army in the conflict in Ukraine, has been experiencing increasing tensions with the military leadership over their differing approaches to the war. Prigozhin has been openly criticizing Russia’s military command in recent months.

The situation escalated dramatically after Prigozhin accused the Russian military of targeting his group’s base in Ukraine, a claim that Moscow denies.

Prigozhin insists that this is not a military coup, but rather an attempt to overthrow Russia’s military leadership. However, President Putin, in his address, described the situation as an act of “treason.”

While Prigozhin was not mentioned by name, President Putin warned that those who engaged in betrayal, armed rebellion, blackmail, or terrorist methods would face severe consequences under the law and before the Russian people.

In response, Prigozhin, for the first time directly criticizing the Russian leader, stated that his troops were “patriots of our motherland” and argued that President Putin was “profoundly mistaken” to accuse them of betrayal.

In a video shared on his Telegram channel, Prigozhin claimed that his fighters had entered Rostov-on-Don after crossing the border from Ukraine, asserting that his forces would eliminate anyone obstructing their path. However, the location and veracity of his claim regarding shooting down a Russian military helicopter that allegedly fired upon a civilian convoy remain unverified.

President Putin acknowledged the challenging situation in Rostov-on-Don, where Wagner forces reportedly control military installations. The city of Voronezh, en route to Moscow, is also said to be under their control, prompting the governor to initiate a “counter-terrorism operation.”

Previously, Prigozhin and President Putin had a close relationship. However, this latest challenge, combined with the complications arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has presented a headache for the Russian leader. Consequently, Putin has taken a firm stance, declaring “enough is enough.”

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Foreign volunteers are needed to fight Ukrainian forces, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He said those who wanted to volunteer to fight alongside Russia-backed forces should be allowed to do so at a Russian security council meeting.

Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, said 16,000 volunteers were ready to fight alongside Russia-backed forces in the Middle East.

Syrians skilled in urban combat, according to US officials, could be among them.

Syria has long been a Russian ally, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has been a vocal supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the country’s civil war.

“If you see that there are these people who want to come to help the people in Donbas on their own volition, not for money,” Mr Putin told his defence minister, “then we need to give them what they want and help them get to the conflict zone.”

Mr. Shoigu also proposed transferring captured Western anti-tank missile systems to Russian-backed rebel fighters in the Donbas region’s breakaway Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Foreign fighters, including former and current members of the British army, have been arriving in Ukraine to fight for Kyiv’s government.

Mr Zelensky recently stated that 16,000 foreigners had volunteered for the cause, forming a “international legion,” as he put it.

Charles Lister, a Middle East Institute analyst in the United States, questioned how useful Syrian forces would be to Mr Putin.

“If [President] Assad’s regime sends troops to Ukraine, they’ll be nothing more than cannon fodder in a battle and environment they’ve never experienced,” he wrote on Twitter.

He went on to say that there was no evidence of any actual recruitment of Syrians.

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Recently, certain intellectuals likened the return of Alexei Navalny, the critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to the return of Lenin to Moscow ahead of the 1917 October Revolution, which overturned the history of the country.

Can Alexei be equated to Lenin is the big question at this juncture.

It is true that the popularity of Mr. Navalny outside Moscow has considerably increased lately. Earlier, Mr. Navalny was a leader whose influence was considered to the four wall of the capital city of Russia, Moscow.

It is also an undisputed fact that the acceptance of Mr. Navalny has grown outside the circle of youngsters. Earlier, the prime supporters of this opposition leader were youngsters who were angry with the authoritarian way they were ruled. The presence of people from all age groups in the protest developed in the aftermath of the arrest of the leader points to a fact that Mr. Navalny is no longer a leader of youth but is a leader who enjoys the support of all age groups.

Mr. Navalny is a very young leader. He has years before him. The graph of his political career has been steadily increasing since he entered into the turbulent platform in the year 2000.  

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is likely to remain in the Russian custody for at least thirty days.

The Russian government has not yet responded to the appeal made by the International community demanding the release of the opposition leader.

Last day, several western countries particularly France demanded the immediate release of Mr. Navalny, who is a fearless critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Navalny was arrested by the Russian police after he had returned to his country.

Last year, the Russian opposition leader was poisoned while he was travelling towards Moscow in a domestic flight.

He was shifted to Germany immediately, as his supporters accused the Russian leader for the incident.

The Russian government recently filed several charges against the opposition leader allegedly to prevent his return to the country.

It is alleged that Vladimir Putin does not wish to allow the return of the opposition leader, who is capable to threaten the domination of the Russian president over the country.

Anyway, the Russian government faces serious pression from the global community to release the opposition leader.

In the coming days, the community is expected to step up its pressure over the country.    

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed a media investigation that has blamed Russian secret service agents for the poisoning attack against Alexei Navalny – the main critic of the Russia supremo.

Mr. Navalny was poisoned while he was travelling to Moscow in a domestic flight. He was initially rushed to a hospital in Russia, where he was declared instable due to an unknown heath condition. The hospital in Russia denied the speculation that the political activist was poisoned.

He was later shifted to a hospital in Germany, where he was declared instable due to a poisoning attack.

He was in coma. He recovered from the heath condition shorty after he had been admitted to the German hospital.

The Russian government has dismissed the allegation. It has termed the investigation as a conspiracy against the government.   

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In a dramatic development related to global politics, Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden.

It is the first time that the Russian president has extended a cordial note to the Democratic leader, who defeated US President Donald Trump, who represented the Republican Party in the 2020 US Presidential Election.

Mr. Putin is known for his close attachment with Mr. Trump.

During the 2016 Presidential Election, it was alleged that the Russian government had interfered in the election to turn the election in favour of the Republican candidate.

The latest development indicates that the Russian government is trying to develop a smooth diplomatic channel between Moscow and Washington DC.

Russia is at present not in a good relation with the rest of the Europe. The latest development has a serious political implication.

It seems that Russia wants to counter the possible upgradation of the US-EU relation post the induction of the new regime with the improved relation with Mr. Biden.

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In a move which is regarded as highly crucial, the Russian Parliament has cleared a bill, which offers immunity to Russian Presidents and their families.

The move has been questioned by numerous political activists. Renowned political activist Alexei Navalny has asked why does the Russian President need an immunity at this juncture.

The law implies even if Russian President Vladimir Putin steps down from the top post he cannot be prosecuted by the Russian government in any circumstance.

The bill is a part of the constitutional amendments which was approved by the Russian population few months before.

Mr. Putin at present has absolute control over the Russian Parliament. The Parliament is dominated by the supporters of the Russian President.

The Russian President is supposed to step down from the post in the year 2024. A new amendment allows him to contest in at least two more elections.

As the possibility of the emergence of a new Presidential figure is less, the possibility of the re-election of the Russian President to the top post is very high.    

Mr. Putin is not less than 68-year-old. He has been in power since the year 2000.

The new bill however has generated fresh speculations about the political future of the Russian dictator.  

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As per a set of documents leaked to medias, Arkady Rotenberg, one of the closest friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, have misused Barclays Bank in London to launder money.

The documents have also proved that the bank has been misused to dodge sanctions imposed over the person by certain Western countries affiliated to the European Union.

Arkady Rotenberg is a billionaire. he is known to Mr. Putin since childhood.

It is believed that financial restrictions imposed over Mr. Rotenberg has promoted him to utilise this fraudulent method.

The development means Western banks have to find a convincing explanation on why they have helped the man to use the channel to move money.

Meanwhile, the bank has justified its position on the ground that they have not committed any illegality.

As per the opinion of the bank, the transaction has been done in accordance with the regulations prescribed.

The Russian government has not yet commented on this issue yet. Russia is not likely to respond on this matter any time soon.

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Alexei Navalny, who was allegedly poisoned by the Russian government at the behest of its President, Vladimir Putin, is getting back to his normal life.

He is being treated at a hospital based in Germany.

The poisoning incident happened while he was travelling to Moscow in a flight. Shortly after the incident, he lost conscious and fell into the stage of coma.

He was initially treated in a hospital based in Russia. But, he was later transferred to Germany, at the request of his supporters, as they raised suspicion about the treatment procedure followed by Russia.

Russia denied the allegation leveled against it by the supports of the victim, who was a vocal critic of the Russian President.

Anyway, the poisoned Russian opposition figure has been removed from ventilation.

As per a latest medial bulletin, the leader can leave his bed in the near future itself.

The poisoning incident has damaged the image of Russia severely. It has left the country at the receiving end of criticism.

Several human rights organisations have criticised the inability of Russia to provide adequate safety to its main opposition figure.

Russia is not new to such allegation. This is not the first time a opposition figure has been attacked in Russia in a similar manner.   

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Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator of Belarus, has reached Russia, to meet his Russian counterpart and supporter, Vladimir Putin.

He has been accommodated in a resort near Black Sea.

It is clear that the visit has a link to the ongoing protest of pro-democratic activists in Belarus.

Russia earlier said that it was ready to send its force to Belarus to support the Belarus leader.

The only country which supports the Belarus dictator at present is Russia. The European Union does not recognise the leader and recently dismissed the election which was allegedly conducted in an unfair manner.

It is the first time since the emergence of the protest that the two leaders are meeting.

The development is keenly observed by the rest of the European world.

Some observers have already termed the meeting as highly crucial.

Already, the Belarus government’s attitude towards the protest has invited huge criticism. If the country continues this attitude, it will lead the European world to a great danger.

It is not wise to let the protest continue in this manner. It is unfortunate that the Belarus dictator shows no remorse for the unacceptable way his force has handled to the protest.

It is high time to find a solution to the Belarus issue.

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