The clips, recorded before Prigozhin led an uprising against the Kremlin’s top brass in a “March of Justice” in June, have been gaining traction on social media in recent days.
Before his failed rebellion, the Wagner chief had regularly filmed video messages criticizing Moscow’s military leadership for their handling of the war, publishing them via the Telegram channel for his catering company Concord.
The Russian Investigative Committee said on Sunday that genetic tests had confirmed Prigozhin was one of 10 people killed when a private jet he owned crashed on August 23, near the village of Kuzhenkino in Russia’s Tver region. The plane was flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The cause of the crash remains unclear, but Ukraine and Russia have both denied responsibility.
Prigozhin was laid to rest in a private burial in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
The videos circulating since his death include one originally published on June 23, hours before the Wagner mutiny. In the clip, Prigozhin casts doubt on President Vladimir Putin‘s justifications for launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, saying they were lies fed to him by the Kremlin’s top brass.
A two-minute version of Prigozhin’s original expletive-ridden 30-minute video was posted on Twitter, formerly X, on Tuesday.
Prigozhin said the war was needed by the oligarchs—”the clan that now actually controls Russia”—adding that they think only of themselves.
The Wagner chief also said the “deepest deceptions” are continuing from the leaders of Russia’s Defense Ministry, and the truth will be revealed only when “a bunch of these s***, realizing that they have screwed up a colossal piece of territory, get together and say that they regrouped to more advantageous positions.”
In the full version of the video, Prigozhin described the early days of the war as a “poorly planned operation” and blamed the defense minister Sergei Shoigu for killing “thousands of people—the most combat-ready part of the army.”
He added: “The mentally ill s******* decided, ‘It’s OK, we’ll throw in a few thousand more Russian men as cannon fodder. They’ll die under artillery fire, but we’ll get what we want.’ That’s why it has become a protracted war.”
Prigozhin said the war was needed so that “a bunch of creatures would simply triumph and promote themselves.”
These personal attacks against the Kremlin’s top brass had intensified in the lead-up to his aborted mutiny. He had poured his fighters for months into the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, but became frustrated over the lack of support and ammunition from the defense ministry.
Weeks before the rebellion, on May 9, Victory Day—Moscow’s annual celebration of the defeat of Nazi Germany—Prigozhin complained about the lack of ammunition, publishing videos shortly before and immediately after Putin’s speech in Red Square. Prigozhin said his fighters still needed ammunition and the Wagner Group was not allowed to retreat, and had been threatened with treason for desertion.
Russian generals, Prigozhin said in his scathing attack, were traitors. “What if it turns out that the grandfather is a real a******?” he added.
Many took “grandfather” to be a reference to Putin himself.