On June 26, at night, Russian President Vladimir Putin made an urgent appeal to Russians, in which he tried to explain what was happening in the country on June 24, when the founder of the Wagner PMC, Yevheny Prigozhin, tried to stage a military coup.
The Russian dictator's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, announced the address as "historic" and "without exaggeration, will determine the fate of Russia." However, even the Russians themselves did not understand why Putin was making the address.
Full text of Putin's speech on June 26 (verbatim):
Dear friends! Today I am once again addressing all Russian citizens. I thank you for your endurance, solidarity and patriotism. This civic solidarity has shown that any blackmail and attempts to create internal unrest are doomed to failure.
I repeat, the highest consolidation of society, the executive and legislative branches at all levels was demonstrated. Public organizations, religious denominations, leading political parties, and virtually all of Russian society took a firm, unequivocal stand in support of the constitutional order. All of them were united and rallied by the main thing: responsibility for the fate of the Fatherland.
I would like to emphasize that from the very beginning of the events, all the necessary decisions were immediately taken to neutralize the threat, to protect the constitutional order, the lives and safety of our citizens.
The armed rebellion would have been suppressed in any case. The organizers of the rebellion, despite their loss of adequacy, could not help but realize this. All of them understood, among other things, that they had committed criminal acts, that they had split and weakened a country that is now facing a tremendous external threat, unprecedented pressure from the outside. When our comrades are dying at the frontline with the words "not a step back!".
However, the organizers of the mutiny, having betrayed their country, their people, also betrayed those they involved in the crime. They lied to them, pushed them to their deaths, under fire, to shoot at their own.
Аratricide is the exact outcome that Russia's enemies wanted: the neo-Nazis in Kyiv, their Western patrons, and the national traitors. They wanted Russia's soldiers to kill each other, to kill servicemen and civilians, to make Russia lose in the end, and to make our society split and drown in a bloody feud.
They were rubbing their hands together, dreaming of taking revenge for their failures at the frontline and during the so-called counteroffensive, but they miscalculated.
"I thank all our military personnel, law enforcement officers, and special services who stood in the way of the rebels, remained faithful to their duty, their oath, and their people. The courage and self-sacrifice of the fallen pilot heroes saved Russia from tragic and destructive consequences.
At the same time, we knew and still know that the vast majority of the fighters and commanders of the Wagner group are also Russian patriots, loyal to their people and state. They proved this with their courage on the battlefield, liberating Donbass and Novorossiya. Someone tried to use them against their brothers in arms, with whom they fought together for the sake of the country and its future.
Therefore, from the very beginning of the events, on my direct instructions, steps were taken to avoid a lot of bloodshed. This took time, also in order to give it to those who made a mistake a chance to come to their senses, to understand that their actions were strongly rejected by society and what tragic, devastating consequences the adventure they were involved in was leading to for Russia and our country.
I thank those soldiers and commanders of the Wagner group who made the only right decision of not going for fratricidal bloodshed, as they stopped at the last line.
Today, you have the opportunity to continue serving Russia by signing a contract with the Ministry of Defense or other law enforcement agencies, or to return to your families and friends. Those who want can go to Belarus as well. This promise will be fulfilled. I repeat that the choice is up to each of you, but I am sure that it will be the choice of the Russian soldiers who have realized their tragic mistake.
I am grateful to the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, for his efforts and contribution to the peaceful resolution of the situation.
But I repeat that it was the patriotic mood of the citizens and the consolidation of the entire Russian society that played a decisive role these days. This support has allowed us to overcome the most difficult challenges for our country together.
I thank you for this. Thank you.
It should be added that the Russians did not really understand what their president had said that was so "historic" and "important":
On June 23, the founder of the private military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, accused the Russian regular army of launching a missile attack on the rear camps of his mercenaries. The Russian Ministry of Defense considers this statement a provocation. Prigozhin promised to "punish" those who attacked the rear camps of the private military company. On June 24, Prigozhin's militants seized administrative buildings in Rostov and moved to Voronezh. Prigozhin promised that Wagner's men would reach Moscow and take over.
After unsuccessful attempts to reach Moscow, Prigozhin said he was stopping his militants and taking them to field camps, while the leader of the Wagner PMC himself was moving to Belarus, as he had agreed with Alexander Lukashenko.
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