7 Russia Experts On What’s Next For Vladimir Putin: Prigozhin No Longer Putin’s Puppet, ‘Pinocchio Became A Real Boy’
Chris Katje, Benzinga Staff Writer
June 26, 2023 5:45 PM | 3 min read
Events that happened in Russia over the weekend are among the biggest global stories to start the week.
A look at what Russian experts are saying about Vladimir Putin after the reported coup attempt.
Whether it was a protest or a coup attempt, the march to Moscow by Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is seen as a major event for Russia and its President Vladimir Putin.
Here’s what several Russian experts are saying could be next for the Russian leader.
What Happened: Over the weekend, the Wagner mercenary group led by Prigozhin marched toward Moscow with demands.
Prigozhin has since downplayed the march calling it a protest and not a coup, which many had used to describe the events taking place in the country.
“We started our march because of an injustice,” Prigozhin said.
While Putin has promised to hold those responsible, experts see potential weakness in Russia and problems ahead for the country.
Experts React: Here’s a look at what some experts are saying about the events that have transpired in Russia over the past several days.
“The fact that it happened is already a great problem for Putin altogether,” The New School professor Nina Khruschcheva told CNBC.
The great-granddaughter of former Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev said “The future is unknown.”
“It’s a can of worms that Putin himself opened.”
Russian Chess Grand Master and Human Rights Foundation Chairman Garry Kasparov shared his thoughts on Putin.
“Putin’s speech was a pathetic spectacle reflecting the weakness exhibited during Prigozhin’s mutiny,” Kasparov said. “In a mafia state where the threat of violence determines everything, he has lost that monopoly and is temporizing.”
Kasparov said Putin was used to saying everything without judgment or accountability, which could now be in question.
“Putin tells his elites they have a good thing going. When things go poorly, he says he’s still the only way back to good times. They will choose their lives and fortunes over him.”
A dangerous inflection point may have been reached by the actions of the Wagner Group, the chairman of the UK’s foreign affairs select committee told LBC Radio, as reported by the New York Post.
“The risk of a collapsed Russia is not insignificant,” Alicia Kearns said. “We don’t know how far Putin will go to keep power, but let’s consider it to be significant. If he’s successful, we will see purges, I think, like we have never seen before.”
Kearns warned that “what could come next could be a lot worse” saying this may be only the start.
“Putin is mortally wounded but I don’t think anyone can say Putin is finished.”
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken shared some thoughts on the events in Russia Sunday.
“What we’ve seen is extraordinary. And I think you’ve seen cracks emerge that weren’t there before,” Blinken told CNN on Sunday.
Blinken said it’s too early to predict what happens next.
“But certainly, we have all sorts of new questions that Putin is going to have to address in the weeks and months ahead.”
Russian journalist and Kremlin expert Mikhail Zygar said the weekend’s incidents could make Putin look weaker.
“There came a moment when Prigozhin was no longer Putin’s puppet. Pinocchio became a real boy,” Zygar told The New Yorker.
Zygar said Russia might have to now consider preparing for a post-Putin country.
“Putin is weaker. I have the feeling he is not really running the country. Certainly, not the way he once did.”
Author and professor of political science at Stanford University Kathryn Stoner offered her take on the events with Politico.
“Putin fears internal dissent more than he fears NATO and Ukraine,” Stoner writes.
Stoner said it’s too early to draw a conclusion of the events led by Prigozhin, but the events might show that Putin is not “all powerful.”
“Putinism is a bit of a house of cards he played Prighozhin and his Wagner mercenaries.”
Director of the Grand Strategy Program at Defense Priorities Rajan Menon said Putin was caught unaware of the Wagner Group and provided little resistance to their protest or coup attempt.
“Putin’s image of invincibility has been tarnished,” Menon said