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**Head of Wagner Calls for Armed Rebellion Against Russian Defense Minister**

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the private military contractor Wagner, has called for an armed rebellion to oust Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu. This has led to a criminal investigation being opened against Prigozhin by Russian security services. This article will explore Prigozhin’s background, the operations of Wagner, and the company’s role in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

**Prigozhin’s Accusations and the Reaction**

Prigozhin accused Defense Minister Shoigu of ordering a rocket strike on Wagner’s field camps in Ukraine. He called for an armed rebellion to punish Shoigu and urged the army not to resist. The Defense Ministry denied carrying out the attack, and the Federal Security Services (FSB) opened an investigation into Prigozhin for calling for an armed rebellion. The FSB urged Wagner’s contract soldiers to arrest Prigozhin and refuse to follow his orders.

**Prigozhin’s Background and Relationship with Putin**

Yevgeny Prigozhin was convicted of robbery and assault in 1981 and served 12 years in prison. After his release, he opened a restaurant business in St. Petersburg, where he developed a connection with Vladimir Putin, who was then the city’s deputy mayor. Prigozhin used this connection to secure lucrative government contracts, earning him the nickname “Putin’s chef.” He later expanded into other industries, including media and an infamous internet “troll factory.”

**Wagner’s Operations**

Wagner first gained attention during the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014. As Russia backed the separatist insurgency in the Donbas region, Wagner deployed its private contractors, allowing Moscow to maintain deniability. The company also operated in Syria, fighting alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. Additionally, Wagner has been active in Libya, the Central African Republic, and Mali, with Prigozhin reportedly securing mining contracts in these countries.

**Wagner’s Reputation and Accusations of Human Rights Abuses**

Wagner mercenaries have been accused of human rights abuses in various African countries, including Central African Republic, Libya, and Mali. The European Union has accused the group of serious human rights abuses, torture, extrajudicial killings, and destabilizing activities. Video evidence has surfaced showing Wagner contractors engaging in brutal acts, but Russian authorities have ignored requests for investigations.

**Wagner’s Role in Ukraine**

As regular Russian troops suffered heavy losses and setbacks in Ukraine, Wagner took on a more substantial role in the conflict. Prigozhin recruited fighters from Russian prisons, promising pardons if they survived a tour of duty with Wagner. The company’s involvement in the conflict has been estimated at 50,000 personnel, including contractors and convicts. The U.S. has accused Wagner of using North Korean weapons obtained in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

**Prigozhin’s Criticisms of Russia’s Military**

Prigozhin has repeatedly criticized the Russian military leadership, accusing them of incompetence and failure to support Wagner adequately. He has specifically targeted Defense Minister Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian military’s General Staff. Prigozhin’s public criticism is unusual in Russia’s tightly controlled political system, where such remarks are typically reserved for President Putin.


Yevgeny Prigozhin’s call for an armed rebellion against Russia’s defense minister has sparked a criminal investigation and brought attention to the activities of the private military contractor Wagner. The company’s involvement in conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, and African countries has drawn accusations of human rights abuses. Prigozhin’s criticism of Russia’s military leadership reflects a long-standing feud with the Defense Ministry. However, the repercussions of his statements and the future of Wagner remain uncertain.

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