A tape-recording of a recent conversation between two members of the Russian elite has gone viral on Russian social media. Yosif Prigozhin, a music producer, and Farkhad Akhmedov, a billionaire oligarch, allegedly discussed Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in the most unflattering way.
Prigozhin claims the conversation was stitched together from a variety of recordings; Akhmedov has refrained from commenting. A source in the Russian secret service claims the exchange is genuine. Judge for yourselves from several choice quotes.
“[Putin] won’t save [himself], he is responsible for everything. We have a republic, a federation, a presidential country. The President will answer for all this. For everything.… [The Russian authorities] f-cked us, our children, their future, their fate.”
Prigozhin: “To be honest, [the Russian authorities] are criminals, damn it…. [Putin] was driven into this crap. He got himself into it. To be honest, yes, well, if he would f-cking stop, win the Nobel Prize, and f-cking leave. He surrendered the country anyway, f-uck.”
Akhmedov: “He won’t go backward, he can’t go forward. He’ll be like this. They’re fighting [one another]. They’re cockroaches, f-uck, in a glass, they’re already gnawing at each other. They’ll form groups. They’ll destroy one [person], then they’ll devour each other, they’ll seize each other by the throat. They will drown each other. Because they’re drowning, they’re drowning. They understand that it’s over.”
“Yes, he doesn’t give a f-ck about anything. And he doesn’t give a f-ck about the people. He’s Satan, f-ck … He’s empty, f-ck. Both this one and the second one [the deputy head of the Security Council, Dmitri Medvedev] have complexes. They’re Lilliputians, f-ck, kids, with complexes.”
The conversation sounds authentic and probably is. We know that there is widespread discontent with Putin within the Russian elite. And we also know Russia’s rulers talk this way, peppering their sentences with frequent obscenities.
Perhaps more important than the authenticity of the conversation is the extreme likelihood of its having been taped and released by the Russian Security Service, the FSB. We know that the FSB is especially angry with Putin’s mishandling of the war and his attempts to put the blame on the spies. If the recording and its release are the FSB’s handiwork, then it’s reasonable to conclude that the FSB has taken off its gloves and is now actually trying to discredit Putin as well as force fence-sitting elites to take sides.
Whatever the case, Putin is in trouble.
Author Biography and Expertise:
Dr. Alexander Motyl is a professor of political science at Rutgers-Newark. A specialist on Ukraine, Russia, and the USSR, and on nationalism, revolutions, empires, and theory, he is the author of 10 books of nonfiction, including Pidsumky imperii (2009); Puti imperii (2004); Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires (2001); Revolutions, Nations, Empires: Conceptual Limits and Theoretical Possibilities (1999); Dilemmas of Independence: Ukraine after Totalitarianism (1993); and The Turn to the Right: The Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919–1929 (1980); the editor of 15 volumes, including The Encyclopedia of Nationalism (2000) and The Holodomor Reader (2012); and a contributor of dozens of articles to academic and policy journals, newspaper op-ed pages, and magazines. He also has a weekly blog, “Ukraine’s Orange Blues.”
March 26, 2023 at 5:31 pm
Is putin soon to be given a lesson in gravity? Only in third world countries, like russia, are leaders worried about be exterminated. Carry on, by all means.
March 27, 2023 at 8:49 am
Supported by Russian Orthodox Krill, one person who could stop this war.
It is not in interest of Russia or Europe. It creates another cold war separation, exodus for better jobs, loss of Ukrainian and Russian lives so mixed before the war, and dwindling of orthodox religion.
But Russia has smiling Xi..
March 28, 2023 at 10:39 am
In the era of neural networks, to believe audio recordings of unknown origin?
And you are naive.
March 28, 2023 at 1:55 pm
Two guys about to fall out a window is what I heard.
March 28, 2023 at 8:22 pm
I never noticed what a delicate and feminine mouth Putin has.