The Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics (Italy) published a study on March 20th about a new, emerging type of opposition in the Russian political establishment as the conflict in Ukraine drags on and tensions in society grow.
"New public figures with an ambiguous reputation, but ready to challenge the incumbent authorities, are gaining strength within Russia's political arena. Until recently, even thinking of this was impossible – the fate of Alexei Navalny is the most striking example of this," the study says. This research focuses on Yevgeny Prigozhin, better known as the owner of the Wagner private army, whose multibillion dollar wealth, a vast media empire and its paramilitary organization enables him to do the incredible. Neither Khodorkovsky, nor Berezovsky, nor other oligarchs of Yeltsin's era had such a combination of financial, military and media resources simultaneously.
The study refers to a script of a video featuring Prigozhin, whom he himself distributed on Russian social networks at the beginning of the year and where the businessman's political ambitions can be traced clearly:
"… the Wagner private army should turn from a simply private company, the world's best, mind you, army, capable of defending the state, it will turn into an army with an ideology. The ideology is fighting for justice!", said the head of Russia's Wagner mercenary forces in a video published over the weekend of 11 and 12th March, as also reported by Reuters.
Furthermore, his overt criticism of the top brass of Russia's Defence Ministry, politicians and government officials, is directly or indirectly in sync with the plans declared by the USA to reform Russia both politically and in international relations.
The study says that Prigozhin cannot become a serious rival to Vladimir Putin at the next presidential elections, if they are held tomorrow. However, the military failures, the weakening economy, and, as a consequence, a falling rating of the incumbent president, can open great opportunities for him.
Link to the study:
MILTON FRIEDMAN INSTITUTE:
The Milton Friedman Institute finds his roots in the will of a group of scholars, politicians and executives, who wanted to promote an association, a think tank, which could rediscover and promote the theories, ideas and proposals of liberalism and his principal branches and schools of thought.
American professor and 1976 Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman was chosen as the individual to whom this association's name was to be dedicated.
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