Russian Anarchists on the Wagner Mutiny

Statements from Three Anarchist Organizations

Early on June 24, Vladimir Putin addressed Russia about the unfolding rebellion of the Wagner private military company, saying that Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion is “pushing the country toward anarchy and fratricide.”

This is a misuse of words. Fratricide has long been the rule under Putin. Torturing and assassinating dissidents was fratricide. Invading Ukraine was fratricide. Both the Wagner company and the Russian military have made fratricide their profession. Anarchy is the opposite of fratricide: it is the condition that prevails when people do not compete to rule each other. Totalitarianism always leads to bloody conflicts over power.

Looking at the situation in Russia, one can’t help but think of the civil war that erupted in Sudan between the army and the Rapid Support Forces earlier this year. Looking to suppress powerful social movements for liberation, the government equipped the mercenaries of the Rapid Support Forces, only to end up fighting with them for control of the country.

This sort of widespread violence is the inevitable end result of militarization. As governments and corporations rely more and more on brute force to suppress social unrest, channeling more and more resources towards police and private security, they are creating the conditions for horrific civil wars on an ever-widening scale. The civil strife that prevails in Sudan and looms in Russia today may well break out elsewhere tomorrow if we do not succeed in shifting the course of our society on a global scale.1

Here, we have hurriedly translated three statements from Russian anarchist groups. All of them, of necessity, are underground groups. The first is based in Siberia; the second is the Anarcho-Communist Combat Organization, which we interviewed last year; and the third is the editorial collective of Avtonom, arguably Russia’s most significant surviving anarchist publishing platform.

Since the following statements appeared, Prigozhin has announced that his forces that were bound for Moscow have turned around, following negotiations with the ruler of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko. Prigozhin may have bitten off more than he can chew, but so has Putin in Ukraine—or else he would not have needed Prigozhin in the first place.

It remains to be seen how this crisis will play out in Russia in the long run. In Turkey, the failed coup attempt of 2016 enabled President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to consolidate power, but any sign of weakness and disunity can only imperil Putin. The volatile and unpredictable situation that our comrades predict in Russia is likely still ahead of us. It will be for the best if the forces contending in it are not two rival totalitarian despots, or at least, not only them.


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