The Man Expected to Replace Putin

Yevgeny Prigozhin, known for his association with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has reportedly emerged as a potential successor to Putin. Prigozhin, who is currently the head of the Wagner Private Military Group, is said to have gained the attention of high-ranking officials due to Putin’s ongoing health issues.

Prigozhin first gained public attention in the 1990s, following his release from a Russian penal colony after serving a nine-year sentence for robbery and assault. He later made a name for himself in the culinary industry and was known as “Putin’s chef” before becoming involved in private military operations.

The now 61-year-old then amassed a large fortune via a series of business ventures – including selling hot dogs, opening convenience stores, and running numerous restaurants across Russia.

Upon meeting Putin at one of the convict-turned-chef’s restaurants in 1996, Prigozhin’s catering company – Concord – was given a series of state contracts to help feed Russia’s vast school system and military.

Putin and Prigozhin’s professional relationship grew substantially over the past two decades, and “Putin’s chef” was eventually given a place in the Russian leader’s “inner circle.”

As previously reported, Prigozhin and Wagner’s progress against Ukraine has recently become a double-edged sword for Russia’s president — because although PMC Wagner has made military gains against the rival Ukrainian troops, Kremlin officials believe Putin has lost control of his mercenary chief.

Last week, the Kremlin was forced to issue a statement contradicting Prigozhin’s claims he and his mercenaries successfully captured the Ukrainian city of Soledar.

“This was all done by PMC Wagner with no other help,” said Prigozhin. “Wagner units took control of the entire territory of Soledar.”

“A cauldron has been formed in the centre of the city in which urban fighting is going on,” the mercenary chief, who reportedly has more than 50,000 mercenaries at his disposal, continued. “The number of prisoners will be announced tomorrow.”

“Assault squads are [still] fighting in the city,” the Kremlin said in a statement of their own. Moscow also indicated that Russian forces “blocked Soledar from the northern and southern areas of the city” – indicating the Wagner mercenary group did not take Soledar “with no other help.”

Dr. Huseyn Aliyev, an expert on Russia and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, recently predicted Prigozhin would be named Putin’s successor should the struggling Russian leader give up power.

“Prigozhin is one of the typical Putin-era power brokers, one of the most trusted in the Kremlin,” Dr. Aliyev said. “He has pushed himself to the front and proved himself capable of pushing forward with Russia’s offensive just as Putin is disillusioned by his generals.”

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