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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Prigozhin And Coup-Related News Are Vanishing From Russian TV

After relatively in-depth coverage beginning last weekend, Russian state-owned TV channels have suddenly stopped reporting on the consequences of the Wagner mutiny.

Long shot of Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a plenary session of forum organized by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives on June 29, 2023


The Wagner Group insurrection, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, continues to captivate the attention of Western and Russian independent media. The whereabouts of Prigozhin are being talked about, the status of top Russian general Sergey Surovikin is analyzed, after reports that he may have had prior knowledge of Wagner’s plans, and may even be under arrest.

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Earlier this week, the rebellion was also still getting plenty of attention on established Russian media, with coverage of Russian President Vladimir Putin's televised addresses on Saturday and Monday, where he expressed gratitude to the Russians for their “patriotism” after the Wagnerites aborted their march on Moscow.

But as the week draws to a close, Russian state media has been progressively removing any mention of the Wagner mutiny, as the Kremlin apparently seeks to close the door on public debate of the past six tumultuous days, the latest signs of ever tightening control over the levers of information.

Selfies with Vlad

Both Wednesday and Thursday night's newscasts on Russian flagship television channels, Russia 1, made no mention of the mutiny. Instead, the journalists reported on Putin's visit to the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) forum and his appearance before a crowd during his visit to the coastal city of Derbent the day before. The journalists showed a girl who took selfies with Putin and another girl crying because she didn't manage to see the president up close.

It's an event of bygone days.

The state-owned Perviy Kanal (Channel One) also focused solely on Putin's trip to Derbent and the ASI forum as the main subjects of discussion. The evening edition of the Vremya program started by highlighting "the most discussed thing right now: Vladimir Putin's communication with hundreds of residents and guests of Derbent."

The mutiny received brief coverage during a segment on Putin's ASI forum visit, including an interview with Rostov Governor Vasily Golubev and a statement from ASI head Svetlana Chupsheva. But the segment was brief, concluding with the reporter declaring: "And yet the mutiny is an event of bygone days."

Putin doodling

Putin doodling

Putin draws on an interactive whiteboard during forum organized by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives on June 29, 2023

Gavriil Grigorov/TASS/ZUMA

Channel One did not mention the mutiny at all the day before. In the daytime newscasts on Thursday, Channel One showed excerpts from statements by State Duma member Andrey Kartapolov and the head of the Republic of Dagestan, Sergei Melikov both telling Putin that "everyone in the region" supported the decisions made on June 24, when the insurrection was under way.

Putin himself has also practically stopped talking about the uprising. In the past two days, he only touched on the subject twice, and both times in response to what his interlocutors had to say.

On Thursday, Russian daily newspaper Kommersantpublished a video of the Russian President doodling on an interactive board during the ASI forum. Putin drew a two-dimensional sketch of a man's face — and we can only wonder who he was thinking of.

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