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‘We’re saving Russia’ In a meeting with military leaders, Yevgeny Prigozhin demanded respect. Read the transcript.
On Saturday morning, a video appeared on Telegram that appears to show “negotiations” between Yevgeny Prigozhin, Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, and Deputy Chief of Staff Vladimir Alexeyev at the Southern Military District’s headquarters in Rostov-on-Don. The previous evening, Prigozhin accused the Russian Defense Ministry of carrying out a missile attack on a Wagner Group camp and announced his units were setting out on a “march of justice” against Russia’s military leadership. Overnight, Wagner fighters cordoned off multiple military and administrative buildings in Rostov-on-Don. Meduza is publishing a transcript of the conversation between Prigozhin, Yevkurov, and Alexeyev heard in the video.
Hours before this conversation, Lieutenant General Vladimir Alexeyev recorded a video in which he called Prigozhin’s actions a “stab in the president’s back” and a “coup attempt” and called on Wagner fighters to “come to their senses.” General Sergey Surovikin, who served as the top commander of Russia’s forces in Ukraine from October 2022 to January 2023, posted a video with the same message. It’s unclear where Surovikin is now.
Prigozhin: They fired at us, and we shot them down.
Yevkurov: You shot them down?
Prigozhin: Shot them down. The third one already. And we’ll shoot them all down, if you keep sending them. Because you’re hitting innocent civilians. You’re destroying civilians — you just blew up a bus with people, and you have no conscience about it.
Yevkurov: First of all, this is the first I’m hearing about this. And let’s not generalize.
Alexeyev: I came to discuss… [unintelligible]
Prigozhin (to Yevkurov): I’m addressing you formally — why are you addressing me informally again?
Yevkurov: I didn’t address you informally.
Yevkurov: I didn’t call you [the formal “you”] “Ty,” I was just saying: let’s not generalize. If you want to be formal.
Prigozhin: Yes, I’m speaking respectfully to you.
Yevkurov: If you say… [unintelligible] But let’s listen, we still need to think — what should we do? [unintelligible]
Prigozhin: Once again: We came here. We want to get the Chief of the General Staff [Valery Gerasimov] and [Defense Ministry Sergey] Shoigu.
Yevkurov: The Chief of the General Staff isn’t [unintelligible].
Alexeyev: (laughs) Take them!
Prigozhin: We’ll remain here until we have them, we’ll blockade the city of Rostov and go to Moscow.
Yevkurov: Then I ask you to withdraw your guys from here… [unintelligible]
Prigozhin: No. Under no circumstances. The guys are staying here.
Yevkurov: No. Well, you’re coming from the perspective…
Prigozhin: We’re not preventing you from commanding your troops.
Yevkurov: You shouldn’t prevent us, of course, [unintelligible], people are dying out there, just like all the others.
Prigozhin: The reason guys are dying is that you’re throwing them into the meat grinder.
Yevkurov: (distracted by his phone ringing) [unintelligible] this question.
Prigozhin: This question isn’t rhetorical. People are dying because you’re throwing them into the meat grinder. Without ammunition, without any thoughts, without any plans.
Yevkurov: (answering phone) Hello?
Prigozhin: You’re just senile clowns.
[video appears to be skip forward]
Alexeyev: What upsets me most is that they’ll be celebrating in Kyiv for at least three days [unintelligible].
Alexeyev: In Kyiv.
Prigozhin: It’s not a big deal. A celebration with champagne in Kyiv [happens] when you abandon Krasnyi Lyman, Izyum, and everything else. That’s when they celebrate for a week in Kyiv. But we don’t retreat. And that’s why we came here, to end the disgrace of the country we live in.
Yevkurov: If we’re talking in that kind of…
Prigozhin: That’s number one.
Yevkurov: You started speaking in that tone.
Prigozhin: Well, of course.
Yevkurov: Then what kind of negotiations can we have?
Alexeyev: You understand that not everybody, not everyone flees…
Prigozhin: Listen. One more time. One more time. If we were talking to you all in a normal tone, we wouldn’t have arrived here in tanks. Do you get it?
Man outside of frame: And we wouldn’t have been met with helicopter fire.
Yevkurov: You believe everything you’re doing right now is right. Is that right?
Prigozhin: Absolutely right. We’re saving Russia.
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