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Russian Dissident: Wagner Leaders are as Powerful as Ministers

The infamous Wagner mercenary army bosses have as much power as Russian ministers. So Russian dissident and businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky told British MPs.

Within the Kremlin, the bosses of the Wagner militia these days have as much influence as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu. Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky stated this to a British parliamentary committee.

According to him, Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is the driving force behind the appointment of hardliner Sergei Surovikin as the new commander in Ukraine. He said that the Wagner group is “actively engaged in terror” and that the small militia will never have to answer for military failure in Ukraine.

Prigozhin, along with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, is seen as a hardliner in the war in Ukraine. There have long been reports of wrangling over influence in the Kremlin between the extreme nationalists and the established officials.

Khodorkovsky was once the wealthiest Russian and was arrested in the early 2000s. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not like his support for liberal politicians. So he ended up behind bars through allegations of fraud and tax evasion. That such a rich and powerful man could be so quickly convicted should serve as an example for other entrepreneurs: whoever wants to do business in Russia, submit to Putin’s will. Khodorkovsky was released in 2013. He has lived in London since 2015.

Before his conviction, Khodorovski was the head of an oil company. He got his hands on it when state-owned companies were privatized after the fall of the Soviet Union.

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