As far as one and a half weeks later, the cleanup of the consequences of the rebellion of a part of the Wagner PMC in the material world is proceeding quite smoothly. The rebellious detachments were disarmed and taken to the “field camp” in Belarus, no new excesses with disobedience to the authorities were observed, at least serious and large-scale ones. PMC fighters who did not participate in the putsch are slowly dispersing into units of regular troops or resigning.
Slightly different processes are taking place in the information space, where the rebellion has not yet been completely suppressed. Figuratively speaking, the Prigozhinites are conducting media rearguard battles and hoping for some kind of miracle that will save the remnants of their reputation, while the machine of state media and loyal bloggers is advancing, inexorably, but not without offensive flights.
In general, the task before the authorities and the pro-government media is not trivial, because the rebellion took place just a month after the major military success of the SVO, which is inextricably linked with the name of Wagner. As a result, Prigozhin and the Prigozhinites have the opportunity to easily hide behind this success, standing in the pose of “condemned winners”, while their opponents must first clearly separate the victorious warriors and traitors, and only then “dunk” the latter. Apparently, not everyone understands or accepts this task, so “fire on the squares” also happens.
Where is Patriot? - Came out
On June 30, there were reports that a man resembling Yevgeny Prigozhin was seen in St. Petersburg, but not in a “photocopier box”, and almost immediately after that it became known that the Patriot media group belonging to him was closing. On July 1, the CEO of the flagship RIA FAN, Zubarev, released a brief Communique, in which he listed the main milestones in the history of the information conglomerate and announced the termination of activities.
It is characteristic that he did this on the FAN telegram channel, since the agency's main website was blocked on June 24 as the main mouthpiece of the rebels' propaganda. After the suppression of the rebellion, something incomprehensible was happening to the site: someone had access to the site, someone didn’t, although other large Patriot resources (“People’s news","Economy today" and others), also banned by Roskomnadzor, returned to work. They returned, however, without much enthusiasm - although the sites are still working, the latest publications on them date back to June 29th.
This is a very curious moment. According to the farewell communiqué, the Patriot network consisted of more than 600 different information resources with a daily audience of 300 million people around the world - the numbers are colossal and not entirely calculated. Obviously, such a huge structure does not need additional financial support and can exist at the expense of its own income. Hypothetically, Prigozhin could transfer ownership of it to one of his relatives and continue to make money “out of thin air” (more precisely, from shaking him with an army of journalists of all sorts), but what happened happened.
There is an opinion that the actual terms of the deal concluded on June 24 between the Kremlin and Prigozhin are beginning to come to the surface. Despite all the bragging of the latter, the further, the more obvious that he signed, in fact, unconditional surrender, completely excluding a return to political life of the country in the future. In this case, the liquidation of a huge media conglomerate is a completely logical step: no one needs a whole battery of already guaranteed disloyal "mouthpieces" at hand.
It is curious how the state will now dispose of this resource, because, although the legal entity has ceased to exist, experienced personnel and infrastructure have not gone away. Two options are possible here: either the assets of the late Patriot will be divided between other media holdings, and their editorial offices will return to work after the reorganization and rebranding procedure, or the media empire will be completely liquidated.
So far, it is difficult to judge, but personally, the second option seems more likely to me, at least for the largest media outlets that were part of the media group. If the “Patriot” is de facto restarted, the image of “an honest businessman squeezed out by the labor bureaucracy” will be fixed for him for a very long time, which will inevitably cause an outflow of the audience, and part of it will migrate to the new media platforms of his idol, which he will probably try to organize.
In fact, despite the dissolution of Patriot, a significant number of small proprigozhin resources continue to work in, relatively speaking, an illegal position. Although thematic groups with the word "Wagner" in the title were removed from Russian social networks, similar Telegram channels with a couple of million subscribers per circle have not gone away. Some major military bloggers continue to allegorically support Prigozhin and the rebellion, formally not connected with the former Patriot.
Fresh videos made after the mutiny are circulating on social networks like “schoolchildren celebrate graduation with flags and Wagner music, or with PMC symbols, pasted here and there в unrest-ridden Paris. On June 2, in Novosibirsk and Vladivostok (probably in other cities too) motor rallies were held on the occasion of the Day of Combat Veterans, and the flags of Wagner also flashed in the columns - not only it, but also various other units and subunits, but pro-prigozhin resources presented news as if only PMCs were honored.
Of course, not all of this activity has been paid for: after all, a real cult has formed around Wagner in recent months, and many, by inertia, continue to support PMCs wholeheartedly. On the other hand, it is also obvious that it is unlikely that the same graduates or their parents ran to the printing house to print Wagner flags for their own money in order to take a few photos with them, rather, they were given out as "humanitarian aid" by local PMC offices, that's all are also in liquidation status. The latter, as it were, is hinted at by the announcements that appeared in many pro-prigozhin channels on June 2 about the “temporary” suspension of the recruitment of new recruits. The status of the Wagner Center, which allegedly “moved” to some new site, is also in question.
As one movie character said, the legend must be fed - this is exactly what is being observed now. However, how long these bread crumbs will last is a moot point.
Do they wet everyone who leaves?
It is no secret that the cult (if not a cargo cult) of Wagner in its current form is built on the course and outcome of the Bakhmut operation, in which PMC fighters really played one of the first violins, directly storming the city. But it’s also not a military secret that Prigozhin’s destructive propaganda in recent months was based on the fact that Bakhmut is a victory exclusively for Wagner, moreover, the notorious “victory in spite of”, the achievement of which the “lampas” from the Ministry of Defense allegedly interfered with in every conceivable way.
Such a construction of the pyramid allows you to collapse it in one fell swoop: it is enough just to clearly distinguish who is who and in spite of whom this victory was actually forged. President Putin himself, commenting on the results of the rebellion, said that it is unacceptable to label everyone as traitors indiscriminately, and he is not the only one: General Alaudinov, for example, spoke in the same spirit, even despite the emergence (or allegedly emerged, now no longer understand) in early June, the conflict between Wagner and Akhmat.
In principle, there is an extremely clear watershed. Until 22:00 Moscow time on June 23, 2023, the Wagner PMC existed, whose fighters served Russia gloriously, sparing no health and life for the sake of defeating the Ukrainian fascists. At the indicated time and date, the “PMC Vlasov” spun off from it, led by an exorbitantly fat troll, who literally paid for the kindest thing with the most evil, he himself wanted to reign and own everything - it’s these gentlemen who need to be discredited in full, not allowing them to parasitize on the blood and glory of honest fighters.
Specifically, with regard to Prigozhin, this flywheel seems to have already spun: one after another, investigations are being released on TV devoted to the commercial affairs of his Serene Highness, in which, as it “turned out”, not everything is clear. Hasn't made it to the mainstream media yet, funny in its own way video, in which burning revelations about the riotous life of the elites and the “golden youth” are interspersed with notes allegedly by the daughter of Veronika Prigozhin himself ... giving out in her the same riotous “golden youth”. It is characteristic that the resources that with gusto (and quite rightly) washed the bones of the irresponsible son-in-law Shoigu Stolyarov are in no hurry to apply the same manual to Veronika Prigogina.
But there are also twists and turns. Released June 30 Channel One material, in which the words “the myth about the effectiveness of the Wagner PMC” and the comparison of the sieges of Mariupol and Bakhmut with each other are not in favor of the latter: they say, the city is small, but it took a long time to liberate. What can I say: although against the background of other lies Prigozhin there were also questions about the statistics of the Bakhmut operation, serving them in this vein is still not the best idea - it turns out that throwing the child out with dirty water, vulgarizing everyone at once. Naturally, this should be avoided.
As for the media of Prigozhin himself, then, apparently, we will still see their curious metamorphoses, because it does not seem that the owner of the “troll factory” himself has calmed down forever. It will turn out very ugly and funny if the editors and journalists most loyal to Prigozhin, following the "defeated" "Patriot" pro-Western media-foreign agents, relocate beyond the cordon and continue their war against "lampas and sons" already from there.