According to reports, Wagner’s leader is seeking political influence.
On Monday, the independent news website Meduza reported that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the infamous mercenary group, is attempting to seize control of a Russian political party.
It was reported that Prigozhin was attempting to acquire control of the ‘A Just Russia’ party, whose leader Sergei Mironov recently referred to Wagner as a “heroic military formation.”
The US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) analyzed the report and concluded that rapprochement between the two figures “could provoke further fractionalization within the Kremlin.”
Independent Russian media have long speculated that Prigozhin, the former chef of Russian President Vladimir Putin, may harbor his own political ambitions.
In March, the mercenary leader publicly refuted Moscow’s justification for the invasion, which is that Russia is fighting Fascists in Ukraine.
According to Meduza, Prigozhin is interested in the St. Petersburg branch of A Just Russia, which is widely regarded as one of the party’s most valuable assets, and obtaining a federal position.
The party, whose slogan is “New Socialism of the 21st Century,” is pro-Kremlin and poses as Putin’s sham opposition.
However, Meduza’s sources expressed skepticism that Prigozhin will be permitted to obtain control of the parliamentary party, as tensions against the infamous figure within the establishment continue to rise.
Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Prigozhin has emerged as a key actor, with Wagner mercenaries playing a crucial role in the conflict, particularly over the prized city of Bakhmut.
The private military company, newly staffed with conscripts, has openly contradicted and challenged the Russian Ministry of Defense on multiple occasions.
The ISW stated that the current leader of “A Just Russia,” Mironov, is “likely endeavoring to revive his political influence and use Prigozhin as a patron for his political ambitions.”
Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Prigozhin was accused of interfering in American elections and expanding Russian influence in Africa.
Similar to Putin, he was born in St. Petersburg and has had numerous run-ins with the law.
At the age of 18, he received his first criminal conviction, a suspended sentence, in 1979.