The founder and sponsor of the Kremlin-directed Wagner Group mercenary company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, launched a series of media initiatives aimed at portraying himself as Russia’s hero in a “crusade” against the petty and corrupt Russian government, the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its latest report on Jan. 21.
On Jan. 21, Prigozhin’s personal press service distributed a letter from a family of a fallen Wagner mercenary, which mentioned “indifferent” local officials who did not help with their son’s funeral, as opposed to Prigozhin, who listens to their appeals.
In the letter, Prigozhin is referred to as “the only person (…) who is not indifferent to the fate of the Defender of Russia and his family.”
Prigozhin also harshly criticized the officials of Russia’s Sverdlovsk Oblast, apparently showing solidarity with the “common man.”
“Prigozhin claimed on Jan. 20 that he would not mind if someone brought a criminal case against him because he would be able to participate in Wagner PMC from prison,” ISW analysts wrote.
“Wagner Group continues to operate militia training centers in Kursk and Belgorod oblasts in a likely effort to provide military support for regions that the Russian MoD supposedly neglects to defend, although neither faces any risk against which Wagner Group could defend."
Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, HUR, previously reported that Prigozhin, is looking to strengthen his influence in the circle of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin at any cost, and is a driving impetus behind the desperate Russian attempts to seize the towns of Soledar and Bakhmut.