Is Mr. Putin Getting Ready to Disappear?

Russian troops left Kherson. Russia loses the war. Putin has to plan
his resignation and appoint a successor or he will end up like Gaddafi.

V.Putin and Y. Prigozhin in 2008.
Image by Government of the Russian Federation, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Russian troops left Kherson. They removed their flags from the city's administrative buildings and blew up all the bridges across the Dnieper River to make it harder for the advancing Ukrainian troops to pursue them.

On November 9, S. Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, has ordered to S. Surovikin, the commander for Russia’s forces in Ukraine, the withdrawal of troops from Kherson to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River. The meeting of the high-rank officers was for some reason broadcasted all over Russia by the state-run news channel “Russia 24”. Mr. Putin was not present there and has not yet commented on the retreat, although it is clear to everyone that this decision could not have been made without him.

Mr. Putin's silence suggests that maybe he no longer makes decisions for Russia. Is he already not the only one? Who else, then?

The Russians' loss of Kherson is a terrible blow to their morbid ego and to Putin's personal authority.
Kherson was the only regional city in Ukraine under full Russian control in this war. Even worse. On September 30, Mr. Putin annexed the Kherson region to Russia, even though he occupied only part of it. So now Ukrainian troops have brazenly attacked Russia's "sovereign territory”. Mr. Putin is expected to respond with something, but... Apparently, this is why Mr. Putin is silent. The bigger military defeat for the Russians would be only the surrender of Crimea to Ukraine.

Even the loss of Kherson is very hard to explain to the Russian average man by “preserving lives of servicemen” or “good will” (although, of course, they somehow manage to do that which is why Putin's propaganda is so famous for).

Mr. Putin will step away from power one day (or he will be removed). The war in Ukraine brings that moment closer. One thing is certain - he will not die a natural death in his position. I personally think that Mr. Putin's end will be like this: he will simply disappear at a certain point, and Russia and the world find the burnt corpse of his double in Novo-Ogaryovo. Then all Russians will splash their hands, point a finger at it and say: "That's his fault. It serves him right."

The retreat from Kherson is the penultimate call to Mr. Putin. It's time for him to get ready to vanish. I wonder if he is able to accept that. The next (and the last) call will be Crimea, but then he will be torn apart by his own people for the collapse of their illusions – his close circle, FSB (FSS), the military, the business elite, the common people...
It seems that Mr. Putin fears the people's justice the most. In 2011 he was very much impressed by the death of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Nobody knows what is going on in Putin's bunker. There is a low probability that the surrender of Kherson may prompt Mr. Putin to disappear. And there is a very high probability that the shameful withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson will force him to begin to prepare his disappearance practically. He is not going to die for his delusional ideas.

Mr. Putin has no good moves after he started the war in Ukraine in February 2022. The situation is only getting worse for him and the loss of Kherson, in my opinion, clearly indicates that it is time for him to prepare a special operation "Resignation + Successor".

There are only two suitable candidates for the role of successor - oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin and the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov.


Only the two of them have personal well-trained and armed armies. Only they are capable to severely suppress the separatist actions of regional elites in the possible breakup of Russia into pieces.

However, R. Kadyrov is Chechen by nationality and the Russians will not accept him as their leader. In conjunction with Prigozhin as the President of Russia and as a leader of the North Caucasus - yes.

Thus, only Mr. Prigozhin remains the most probable successor of Mr. Putin at the president’s position. Mr. Putin will disappear behind the back of his "personal chef". Mr. Prigozhin is called “Putin’s chef” because he once conducted catering events for the Kremlin.

Wikipedia informs:

Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin (born 1 June 1961) is a Russian oligarch and close confidant of Russian president V. Putin… Prigozhin controls a network of companies including Wagner Group, a Russian state-backed mercenary group accused of war crimes in Africa, Syria, and Ukraine; and three companies accused of interference in the 2016 and 2018 US elections. A video circulated on social media in September 2022 showed Prigozhin in a Mari El prison recruiting inmates, promising them freedom if they served six months with the Wagner group. Prigozhin himself spent nine years as a convict in prisons in Russia. Prigozhin said that he had founded the Wagner group specifically to support Russian forces in the war in Donbas, in May 2014.
According to an investigation by Bellingcat, The Insider, and Der Spiegel, Prigozhin's operations "are tightly integrated with Russia’s Defence Ministry and its intelligence arm, the GRU. Prigozhin, his companies and associates face economic sanctions and criminal charges in the United States.”

Mr. Prigozhin is not a civil servant. He is expanding his business empire using the connections with Russian government and personally Mr. Putin.

In 1980-s Mr. Prigozhin spent nine years in prison for robbery and fraud. After the release he went into the catering business, opened a prestigious floating restaurant in St. Petersburg, hosted Mr. Putin's birthday parties and organized catering for major Kremlin events. Mr. Prigozhin won lucrative catering contracts for schools and Russia’s armed forces, founded on private military company (PMC) “Wagner Group” for illegal military actions, launched so-called “trolls factory” to interfere in the US election and got under international sanctions and US criminal charges…
Mr. Prigozhin is an interesting personality.

I thought he was aiming to replace Defense Minister Mr. Shoigu (or wanted to put his guy at this post) to start managing new cash flows from the Russian budget. Now I think he may be aiming for Putin's place with the blessing of Mr. Putin himself, who will soon need to disappear quietly.

In September 2022, Mr. Prigozhin finally admitted that he had created the Wagner PMC in 2014 for operations in Ukrainian Donbass, although he called it "a group of patriots”. In fact, it is Mr. Prigozhin's personal army, which serves his and Mr. Putin's business and political interests all over the world - in Ukraine, Central African Republic, Libya, Mozambique, Mali, Sudan, Venezuela, and Syria. The Wagner PMC receives military equipment from the Ministry of Defense of Russia and has tanks, artillery, combat aviation, and even air defense means. And all that power is under the command of businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin. This is probably his strongest business project. The client, apparently, was Mr. Putin himself.

What's wrong with that?

Any state (democratic or totalitarian) always clings to a monopoly on violence. Only it has the right to take lives of its own and other citizens in rebellions, wars (whether invasive or liberating ones), or as a punishment for violating its laws. If some other entity acquires the monopoly of violence in a country, that country will quickly (relatively) fall apart. It is like having two husbands/fathers in a family. Such a family cannot exist long.

For example, in Mexico the drug cartel fighters forcibly removed the son of the drug lord El Chapo from the hands of legal authorities in October 2019 and I expected big problems for Mexico in the future. In fact, Mexicans are already crowding the US southern border, because more than 25,000 civilians have been killed in gang shootings in Mexico in 2021 alone. The same is true for any other country which loses its monopoly on violence, Russia including.

Mr. Prigozhin has greatly added to his political importance since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

He and Mr. Kadyrov constantly criticize the Russian Ministry of Defense for the wrong actions in Ukraine. They managed to remove from office the commander of the Army Group "Center" Gen. Lapin and appointed Gen. Surovikin the commander of all Russian forces invading Ukraine.

Mr. Prigozhin openly opposes his PMC Wagner to the Russian army. He is proud of the success of his mercenaries in Ukraine and openly agitates Russian citizens to join his private paramilitary group. However, a mercenarism is forbidden by law in Russia. It turns out that Mr. Prigozhin is getting above the law, apparently (and so far) with Mr. Putin's permission. Moreover, on November 4, 2022, PMC Wagner has officially opened its first headquarter in St. Petersburg (Russia). Mr. Prigozhin said at the ceremony: “The mission of the PMC Wagner Centre is to provide a comfortable environment for generating new ideas to improve Russia's defence capability.”
Many Russians believe that Russia is always only defensive.

Mr. Prigozhin began to create people's militia in areas of Russia bordering Ukraine (Belgorod and Kursk regions). He also recruits mercenaries for the war in Ukraine in Russian prisons and promises clemency to survivors. He does all this in the name of the Russian state without having any state position. It is an example of a private person performing the functions of a state that cannot (or does not want to) perform them. In any case, such a state will not last long.

And recently Mr. Prigozhin confirmed in his Telegram channel that Russia interfered in the US election. He said literally: “We interfered, we interfere and we will interfere”, speaking again on behalf of nobody, and Mr. Putin did not put Mr. Prigozhin in his place. Mr. Putin did not react at all to this statement of his "personal chef" just like he was silent about his troops' withdrawal from Kherson.

Mr. Putin has been keeping quiet a lot lately. Institute for the Study of War has stated recently that Mr. Prigozhin was “increasingly challenging” Mr. Putin’s monopolization of the state information space.

In my opinion, the way is open for Mr. Prigozhin to become the President of Russia. He doesn't seem to mind himself, and Mr. Putin may need to leave soon. Another viable variant is - there is nothing Mr. Putin can do about Mr. Prigozhin now.

And it's okay that Mr. Prigozhin was a prisoner before. Former Ukrainian President V. Yanukovych was also in a jail two times. Now it's time for Russians to applaud a president with a criminal record, too. Ukraine will then get another Russian president, just like Ukrainian President Zelensky wanted while putting into operation on October 4, 2022 a decision of the National Security and Defense Council which stated that Ukraine would negotiate only with the next Russian president.

P.S. Everyone has somehow forgotten that Mr. Putin, who is now losing the war, can still use nuclear (tactical or strategic) weapons. The US can apparently see the preparing of Russian nuclear strike from the land, but not from Russian submarines. Thus the nuclear question is still open. This is life, which is wonderful (or disgusting like in a case of using the nuke) in its unpredictability.

Therefore, the success in Kherson is far from being a complete triumph for Ukraine, but simply the next important step to the victory. Ukrainians need to keep moving and not trying to predict Mr. Putin's actions.

If you act correctly, your opponent makes mistakes. Let things go their way.


P.P.S. Dear Reader! I am very much interested in your opinion on the subject of this article. Please, write a comment or ask a question if you want to clarify something.
Igor Chykalov
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