‘We know the vast majority of Wagner fighters are patriots’ In another short speech, Putin condemned Prigozhin’s rebellion while letting participants off the hook
Vladimir Putin made his second emergency national address in as many days tonight. He denounced the armed rebellion led by Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, but did not mention the group’s leader by name. Putin said the insurrection’s leaders “betrayed their country, their people, and those who were drawn into the crime. They lied to them and drove them to death under gunfire to shoot at their own.” The president also said that he believes many members of Wagner Group are patriots and that he plans to honor his promise to allow rebellion participants to sign contracts with Russia’s regular Armed Forces, go home to their families, or “leave for Belarus,” where Prigozhin will reportedly be exiled. Meduza is sharing a full translation of Putin’s speech.
Dear friends, I once again address all the citizens of Russia. Thank you for your composure, your solidarity, and your patriotism.
This civic solidarity has shown that any blackmail and any attempts to cause internal turmoil are doomed to failure. I repeat, the highest level of social consolidation, executive and legislative power at all levels, and a firm, unambiguous position of supporting the constitutional order were taken by public organizations, religious confessions, and leading political parties. Virtually all of Russian society.
One key thing united and rallied everyone: responsibility for the fate of the Fatherland. I would like to stress that we immediately made all the decisions needed to neutralize the threat, and to protect the constitutional order and the lives and security of our citizens.
The armed rebellion would have been put down in any case. The rebellion’s organizers, despite losing common sense, could not help but understand this. They understood it all, including that they had taken criminal action, that they had split and weakened a country that is now facing a colossal external threat, and unprecedented pressure from abroad, when our comrades are dying on the frontlines amid cries of “Never retreat!”
However, the organizers of the rebellion, having betrayed their country and their people, also betrayed those who were dragged into the crime, lied to them, drove them to death, at gunpoint, to shoot at their own people. This is exactly what’s wanted by Russia’s enemies and the neo-Nazis in Kyiv, their Western patrons, and various fifth columnists. They’d like Russian soldiers to kill each other, for soldiers and civilians alike to die, so that Russia ultimately loses. And for our society to split, choked in bloody civil strife. They’re rubbing their hands together, dreaming of taking revenge for their failure at the front and during the so-called counteroffensive.
But they miscalculated. Thanks to all our military personnel, employees of law enforcement agencies, and the special services who stood in the way of the insurrectionists. They honored their loyalty to duty, to their oaths, and to their people. The courage and self-sacrifice of our fallen hero-pilots saved Russia from tragic and devastating consequences.
At the same time, we knew that the vast majority of the fighters and commanders of the Wagner Group are also patriots of Russia, devoted to their people and the state. They’ve proved it with their courage on the battlefield, liberating the Donbas and Novorossiya. They tried to use them without their knowledge against their own brothers in arms, with whom they fought together for the country and its future. Therefore, from the very beginning of these events, they took steps on my direct orders to avoid bloodshed.
This took time, including to give those who made a mistake a chance to come to their senses, to understand that society resoundingly rejects their actions, and what tragic, devastating consequences for Russia and our state the adventure into which they were were being dragged was leading.
I thank the soldiers and commanders of the Wagner Group who made the correct decision and did not move ahead with fratricidal bloodshed. They stopped at the last minute. Today, you have the opportunity to continue serving Russia by signing a contract with the Defense Ministry or other law enforcement agencies, or you can return [home] to your loved ones. Those who wish will be able to leave for Belarus. The promise I made will be kept.
I repeat, the choice belongs to each of you. But…I am confident it will be the choice of Russian soldiers who have realized their tragic mistake. I am grateful to the President of Belarus, Mr. Alexander Lukashenko, for his efforts and contribution to the peaceful resolution of the situation.
I repeat, it was precisely the patriotic spirit of citizens and the consolidation of Russia’s entire society, that played the decisive role in these past few days. This support allowed us together to overcome the most difficult challenges for our Motherland. Thank you for that.