Staunton, May 1 – The threat of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner PMC, to leave the Bakhmut front in Ukraine qualifies as a mutiny and, if as likely will be the case goes unpunished, represents “the first sign of a civil war in Russia,” according to Russian commentator Igor Eidman.
“If this had happened in any army during the first or second world war,” he continues, “that would have qualified as an extraordinary emergency and such a rebel within the military leadership would have been immediately arrested and, most likely, shot” (gordonua.com/blogs/eydman/pervye-priznaki-grazhdanskoj-vojny-v-rossii-ochevidny-drajverom-stal-prigozhin-on-uzhe-otkryto-vzbuntovalsja-protiv-voennogo-rukovodstva-1661740.html).
But in civil wars, Eidman says, such behavior is “quite common” as Russians who have studied the Russian Civil War in the first years after the Bolshevik revolution. Now, as then, many commanders are willing to act in this way and thus open a new “atamanshchina” in Russia.
That term refers to rule of the atamans and the dominance of uncontrolled armed formations in the absence or the significant weakening of state power,” Eidman says, adding that “this is the most dangerous form of civil war. Lenin wanted to turn an imperialist war into a civil war; Putin is on his way to repeating that.
According to the sociologist, “the next step in this process will be clashes between regular army units and the Wagner PMC. Such fighting could begin after the Russian military suffers new defeats and when each side tries to blame the other for that outcome and seize as much of the dwindling military resources that are left.
For background on the atamanshchina in Russia’s past and more recently, see Canfield F. Smith, “Atmanshchina in the Russian Far East,” Russian History/Histoire Russe, 6:1 (1979): 57 at booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/187633179x00041; windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/07/seven-almost-forgotten-figures-of.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/08/atamanshchina-lite-spreads-to-russian.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/07/atamanshchina-in-donbass-both.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/07/atamanshchina-spreading-among-pro.html.
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