(Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
- Putin made two public appearances this week just days after the Wagner Group staged a revolt.
- The Russian president’s sudden accessibility seemed to be an effort to maintain a facade of control.
- But military experts told Insider that the coup could be the beginning of the end of Putin’s reign.
Putin appears to be on the prowl for good publicity in the aftermath of the Wagner Group’s armed uprising.
The Russian president made two public appearances this week just days after the Wagner mercenary group, led by former Putin-ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, staged an armed revolt against the country’s defense ministry.
The sudden over-saturated public presence of Putin seems to be part of Russia’s strategic attempt to pretend everything is totally fine as it fights a flailing war in Ukraine and tries to manage its own civil strife back home.
Thousands of Wagner troops-for-hire marched toward Moscow on Saturday before Prigozhin eventually turned his forces around, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed. The Kremlin agreed to drop criminal charges against Prigozhin in exchange for his exile to neighboring Belarus, though the specifics of the tenuous peace-deal remain uncertain.
Military experts told Insider that the Wagner coup could very well be the beginning of the end for Putin’s multi-decade reign.
On Thursday, the Russian president attended the Agency for Strategic Initiatives forum, where he toured an exhibition of award-winning concepts for new national brands that can substitute Western products, according to Russian state media agency Tass.
In a Telegram post, Russian state news agency TASS shared video of Putin interacting with the NexTouch interactive touch screen.
With pen in hand, the president doodled a bizarre human face replete with squiggly-lined skin, three strands of hair, and giant ears.
—max seddon (@maxseddon) June 29, 2023
Then, he signed his name beneath the masterpiece.
The Thursday appearance came one day after Russian state television broadcast Putin meeting “hundreds of people” in Derbent, Dagestan.
Putin’s unusually-friendly behavior — shaking hands with civilians and posing for photographs — stands in stark contract to the chaos that gripped Moscow on Saturday