Putin Responds After Coup Attempt Revealed

After not saying a word in the early stages of the attempted coup by the Wagner Group and its chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian President Vladimir Putin is now trying to say that it’s just “business as usual” in his country.

Making the first public appearance since the attempted challenge to his authority, Putin didn’t mention the uprising at all, even though it happened just two days earlier. His appearance included talking to people who were participating in the International Youth Industrial Forum.

The Kremlin released video footage of Putin’s address to the participants of the forum. It showed that he said Russia’s domestic industries are reliant on human resources, and he praised the innovators, designers and engineers of the country.

He said that the key to strengthening Russia’s “security, economic and technological sovereignty” was building up the competitive abilities that Russia has in terms of both global and domestic markets.

He also paid tribute to today’s engineers and the “talented and energetic young people” who were attending the forum. 

Newsweek reported that the tone Putin took in his speech was significantly different than when he released a video address on Saturday, accusing Prigozhin and the members of the Wagner Group of “treason.”

That happened after the mercenaries first overtook Russian military facilities in Rostov-on-Don and then marched toward the capital of Moscow. Seemingly miraculously, Prigozhin agreed to tell his troops to stand down, doing so in exchange for not facing criminal prosecution in Russia.

The deal – which was brokered by Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus – also saw Prigozhin go to neighboring Belarus. Lukashenko is considered a strong ally of Putin’s, so what comes of Prigozhin and the Wagner Group now is anyone’s guess.

While the announced deal was that Prigozhin wouldn’t face criminal charges, Russian media outlets reported this week that the chief of the Wagner Group was still being investigated.

While the power that Putin holds over Russia wasn’t threatened during the Wagner uprising, Marie Dumoulin of the European Council on Foreign Relations told Newsweek that “his authority has been explicitly and radically challenged.”

She continued:

“The fact that Putin is willing to make concessions when faced with violence may herald further challenges of an even more radical nature.”

What the Prigozhin-led uprising did do, according to Dumoulin, was call into question one of the core elements of the narrative that Putin has been pushing since he came into power in Russia. That is that he is bringing order and stability to Russia after the major chaos that occurred there during the 1990s, after the former Soviet Union fell.

Dumoulin explained:

“As long as the war remained distant for most Russians, this narrative could hold. However, a rebellion by a paramilitary group does not align well with this narrative.”

It’s partly why Putin probably isn’t really addressing the uprising anymore – and he may not address it again unless some more serious action is taken against Prigozhin and the Wagner Group in the future.