Putin’s Needy Little Helpers Are Ruining Russia (Op-ed)

New reports of contract killings point to an emerging class of Kremlin businessmen sending Russia back in time. Mark Galeotti discusses the topic further in his op-ed for the Moscow Times.

Russia seems increasingly to be in two time zones: the late 2010s and the mid-1990s. Recent revelations by the Novaya Gazeta investigative newspaper about dirty tricks and dirtier killings alleged — but not proven — to be connected to businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin are a depressing reminder of the way Russia’s elite appear to be devolving. This is not quite a return to the old ways; this is the 1990s in an Italian suit, but with a flick-knife in a pocket.

Novaya Gazeta claims that attacks on opposition activists and bloggers were carried out on Prigozhin’s behalf. The story is based on the testimony of one of the men involved, ex-convict Valery Amelchenko, who has since himself disappeared. Novaya Gazeta’s reporter Denis Korotkov – who himself received the symbolic threat of a funeral wreath from persons unknown – believes that Amelchenko may have been abducted or killed.

It is a luridly over-the-top tale of government critics and business rivals of Prigozhin’s being targeted, of murders in the Donbass and even drug experiments in Syria. At present, it is hard to say whether it is wholly accurate and how far Prigozhin himself was behind these operations, but it illustrates something about the elite today.


You can read the full article here.

Dr Mark Galeotti is the IIR Senior Researcher, the non-resident Fellow of the Centre for European Security of the IIR as well as an internationally recognized expert on transnational organized crime, security issues, and modern Russia.