Sunday, June 25, 2023

Prigozhin Rising Classic Example of Mafia Wars, Nevzlin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – When situations are murky and perhaps especially when they involve someone analysts have gotten used to thinking is more in control of the situation than in fact is the case, there is a great danger of overthinking the situation and constructing epicycles where none is needed instead of drawing conclusions based solely on the evidence.

            To a certain extent, that is what has happened in response to the clash between Putin and Prigozhin over the last 24 hours. But by applying Occam’s razor, Israeli-based Russian businessman and commentator Leonid Nevzlin cuts through the plethora of analytic perspectives being offered (

            He argues that what has just happened need not be explained by any reference to grand politics but rather by the imperatives of mafia wars, given that the Putin regime itself is less a state in the usual sense than a criminal enterprise. Indeed, Nevzlin argues, what has just happened is “a classic example” of what mafia wars are like.

            “As soon as the boss is weakened” – and Putin has been by age, time in office and mistaken decisions – someone “younger, more aggressive, angrier and desirous of power invariably comes forward” and the situation moves toward a showdown, one that may last for some time but reflects the mafia nature of the Russian state.

            From this perspective, Nevzlin says, “Prigorzhin’s rebellion isn’t so much sudden and out of nowhere but rather something that is entirely natural. Putin has shown weakness in Ukraine; now he has demonstrated the same shortcoming in his own country.” His desire to escape from this situation with his life may make even a cell at the Hague look like a good choice.

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