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Journalist @thetimes. DM open, stock disclaimer. "Stupid and unceremonious"--Yevgeny Prigozhin

Feb 27, 2021, 13 tweets

Short thread here on Dmitry Utkin, the commander of the Russian Wagner mercenary force. A picture of this distinguished gentleman appeared on line showing he sports Nazi tattoos.…

Just off the bat, a spokesman for the litiguous Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of Wagner, denies Prigozhin's links to Wagner or Utkin and said my questions prompted a 10 minute Prigozhin rant.

Now that's out of the way, the notorious Wagner group is in fact thought to be named after Utkin's military codename...Wagner--an affectation by the former special forces commander who has a penchant for white supremacist ideology

That Utkin has these tattoos comes as no surprise--his inclinations were already known, and those also of many of his fighters. In Libya, Wagner mercenaries left behind Nazi and white supremacist scrawlings in buildings they occupied.

The one in Russian says: "I see mosques in Russia, but it's better to see them burn in hell". It was scrawled on the walls of a mosque in a Tripoli suburb. 14/88 means ""We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children" and Heil Hitler.

So none of this is surprising, although what is surprising is it took so long for a picture of Utkin's long reported Nazi tattoos to surface. This one did in December on some Russian VK accounts and a Telegram group affiliated with the mercenaries.

Like in many other parts of the world, especially Europe and North America, far right leanings among some members of the armed forces are common in Russia as well. But the type espoused by Utkin remains anathema in a country where millions died fighting Nazis

(speaking of the far right in Russia, Navalny, for example, holds racist views that would have him ostracised from public life in the West)

(I genuinely don't know why Prigozhin was so upset here. I didn't even ask for details of his conviction and present sentence which allegedly revolved around the sex trafficking of minors)

Back to Mr Utkin. In 2015 he was present, wearing his medals, at a Hero of the Fatherland reception in the Kremlin. The Kremlin later said he had been a recipient of the Order of Courage

By then Utkin was in charge of Wagner, which had deployed in Ukraine. The most recent command structure I could find on the group still lists him as boss

This is the group that Khalifa Haftar, in a Faustian pact, invited to Libya to help anoint him as dictator. Now, his nationalist senior officers rue that decision.…

(OK so it wasn't a short thread)

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