Russia's former prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, said that Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin’s short-lived insurrection last week shattered the “myth” of the “stability” President Vladimir Putin portrayed and the mutiny in fact weakened him considerably inside Russia.
Kasyanov who served as PM from 2000 to 2004, said: “The main impact is very easy and very simple… Just the stability with Mr. Putin,” he said in an interview with German outlet DW, adding that for 20 years, Kasyanov said, Russian propaganda had sought to assure people "that the main basis for Putin's rule is stability and potential prosperity."
Prigozhin started a brief revolt last week which swiftly ended with him calling off his Wagner forces’ march on Moscow after agreeing to a deal which would see him exiled in Belarus without any legal action taken against him in Russia. He said in his first remarks since the aborted revolt that the march was a “demonstration” not an attempted coup.
Prigozhin’s mutiny had a resounding impact within Russia and internationally as well. The general consensus amongst international politicians and analysts is that the mutiny had weakened Putin and raised questions about his ruling with an iron fist at a critical time when his forces confront an intense counter-offensive in Ukraine.
Kasyanov said: “Prigozhin managed to destroy this myth, this image of stability.”
In the wake of Prigozhin’s brief revolt, Russian leadership swiftly moved to project a semblance of stability, calm, and control. Putin had stressed in an address to the nation the importance of unity and patriotism in the face of enemy attempts to destabilize the country and fracture its society. While, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu made his first public appearance since the mutiny in a video where he visited Russian troops in Ukraine.
Also, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took part in a high profile and well publicized interview in which he made statements carefully crafted to downplay the scale and impact of the incident, emphasizing the Russian state's robustness and resilience in the face of challenges.
Overall, top Russian leadership used every instrument in their toolbox to create an image of unyielding authority, promote national unity, and to affirm their control over the country's security apparatus.
Mark N. Katz, Russian foreign policy expert and nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Al Arabiya English: “Conflict among subordinates, with one of them sending forces to march on the capital, does not look good for any dictator. I anticipate that there may now be other, more orchestrated, moves against Putin from inside the regular forces.”