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Opinion | A Salute to the Honest(ish) Russian Warlord

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Video by Kirk Semple and Jonah M. Kessel

Mr. Semple is a producer with Opinion Video. Mr. Kessel is the deputy director of Opinion Video.

The Opinion Video above is about Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian warlord who led a short-lived rebellion in Russia last week. The mutiny stunned the world, but it was a rebellion foretold. For months, Mr. Prigozhin, who commanded a totally ruthless mercenary force and is himself a product of the Russian kleptocracy, had been an unrestrained critic of the Russian military command, unleashing raw and candid critiques via his Telegram account. For reasons that are still not entirely clear, Russia’s leader, President Vladimir Putin, had allowed Mr. Prigozhin to hammer away at the Kremlin, which is particularly astonishing given how many of the government’s critics have wound up either imprisoned or dead.

Here’s a selection of Mr. Prigozhin’s sharpest criticisms of Russia’s military leadership and the nation’s faltering war in Ukraine. The mercenary chief is a thug, and the brutal militia under his command has been accused of committing numerous atrocities. But that does not detract from the fact that he was the primary source of real information about the war for many Russians, and that much of what he said was true. Seeing him say it is remarkably powerful.

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Kirk Semple is a reporter and producer for Opinion Video. @KirkSemple

Jonah M. Kessel is the Deputy Director of Opinion Video at The New York Times. Mr. Kessel’s video journalism is a hybrid of explanatory and investigative short form documentary and other innovative forms of visual journalism. @jonah_kessel Facebook

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