The attempted insurrection by the chief of the Wagner private military company, Evgeny Prigozhin, amounts to a betrayal of Russia and its people, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an address to the nation on Saturday morning. He also vowed that the country’s law enforcement agencies will take decisive actions to restore order.
In a televised speech, Putin appealed to Russian service members and those “who have been drawn into this criminal gamble by deceit or threats,” without naming Prigozhin in particular.
He noted that Moscow is engaged in a historic struggle to safeguard its future while “repelling aggression from neo-Nazis and their masters” in the West.
“We are fighting for the lives and safety of our people, for our sovereignty and independence. For the right to be and remain Russia,” the president said, urging fellow citizens to join forces and put aside all the divisions that could be exploited by foreign adversaries.
Against this backdrop, Russia’s Armed Forces and other government agencies have received the necessary orders, Putin said, also pointing out that antiterrorist measures have been introduced in Moscow, Moscow Region, and a number of other areas.
He also noted that “decisive actions will be taken to stabilize the situation in Rostov-on-Don,” in southern Russia. Earlier in the day, several media outlets shared clips of tanks moving around the city, with unidentified soldiers patrolling the streets.
The Russian president also urged those being drawn into the insurrection to “make the only right choice and stop taking part in criminal actions.”
On Friday, Prigozhin accused the Russian Defense Ministry of launching a deadly missile strike on a Wagner Group camp, vowing retaliation. The ministry, however, dismissed the allegation, describing it as “an information provocation.”
The Russian authorities later said that they had opened a criminal investigation into the Wagner chief for allegedly calling for an armed rebellion.