A Telegram channel associated with the Wagner PMC published a video of the execution of a recruited prisoner Yevgeny Nuzhin, who surrendered to the Ukrainian military and sought to defect to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The publication titled "The Hammer of Retribution" divulged that Nuzhin had received the traditional Wagnerian punishment: he was beaten to death with a sledgehammer.
Wagner PMC's founder and owner Evgeny Prigozhin commented that the dog Nuzhin had met a dog's death. The deputy editor of the St. Petersburg outlet Fontanka.ru, Yevgeny Vyshenkov in an op.ed. titled "Victory or Sledgehammer. On the First Public Execution in the New Russia" noted that the authorities had not even gone through the motions of announcing an investigation of the lynching. Prigozhin, who is less a business man and more a politician could get away with reveling in Nuzhin's death, because he knew the action had tacit regime approval and that public sentiment was trending in favor of restoring the death penalty. Vyshenkov warns his fellow citizens that the gruesome execution would not be restricted to the remote planet of the Ukrainian front, but that it would extend to respectable areas of Russia proper. After all, traitors in the trenches were a rarity, the bulk of the presumed traitors and saboteurs operated in the rear.
Vyshenkov's column follows below:
Yevgeny Vyshenkov (Source: Fontanka.ru)
The video showing the execution of a convicted felon from the Wagner PMC, who defected to the side of Ukraine is an event. The rules have been cancelled. The authorities are silent. The ‘mummy’ of the death penalty comes back to life.
The brutal death of the still largely obscure Yevgeny Nuzhin was reported by majority of the media and news channels. Let’s leave aside the predictable ethical debate over whether it’s just to crush a traitor’s head with a sledgehammer, if he was convicted for life imprisonment for a murder, or whether the hammer of retribution caught up with him after he agreed to fight in the PMC "Wagner", but defected to the side of the enemy.
This text won’t cover the endless speculation concerning how he was kidnapped [by Wagner PMC] in Kyiv, or it was done by the Ukrainian nationalists themselves. If Wagner PMC is responsible for the action, then they’ve demonstrated that even in this case they are more effective than all the FSB and GRU combined. However, a completely different reaction is important for us.
"The execution of a renegade-traitor is more than a milestone event. It’s, actually, a change of eras. The history of liberalism and permissiveness is over. The time that one could betray and get away with it <...> via a trial and a lawyer is over. Now nothing will ever be the same again," the well-known military expert, Vladislav Shurygin put it clearly [speaking] on "Radio Rossiya"
This is not just an opinion, the execution was, obviously, authorized. Well, the Head of Wagner PMC, Prigozhin is not a refined gentleman, his speech is characterized by rough poster-like language "A Dog Deserves a Dog’s Death." He posted that immediately at his media resources. And he is not a businessman. Forget about it. He’s a politician.
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We are so constituted today that there are only two figures who can say whatever they think. They are: Kadyrov and, more recently, Prigozhin. The rest are officially subordinate figures. Prigozhin, creates the news agenda on a federal, or even global level (the German media, for example, wrote about him that week, presenting as a new politician).
Kadyrov (l) and Prigozhin (Source: U74.ru)
Now he made a statement, but not about the traitor. This video conveys, up-front, that since November 13th it’s okay to act like that. Mind you, not a single power institution issued a formal squeak. [I didn’t expect much, but] at least something along the line, "...a review has been initiated, a procedural assessment will be provided upon the results...."
The only one holding out is Roskomnadzor [The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media]. After all, [Russian] media doesn’t publish the video itself (how the skull was struck by a sledgehammer). Because, one can’t do it. After all, it’s propaganda of cruelty, one can expect a warning. Although ... Maybe if a traitor, who’s being hit with a sledgehammer, then… it might have been already censored …
It all means, the video is a deliberately public lynching in the form of a prompt verdict and execution, distributed as widely as possible in order for us to reflect. Such is ultimate spiritual justice today.
Before November, 13th, a lot of bloody, dirty, horrible things were appearing on the networks, but it was either something unspecific, or it were arguments that the Ukrainians were pulling a provocation. Now, without a doubt, the ‘tradition’ has been restored.
Public executions in the USSR ended in 1946 (after the Civil War they reappeared again during the Patriotic War). For instance, Nazi criminals and their accomplices were hanged in Leningrad in January and, in February, the same was done in Riga and Kyiv. In 1947 the capital punishment was abolished, later it was reintroduced, but this time the shootings were carried out in strict secrecy.
In the early '90s, as you know, the moratorium was introduced. Since then, the desire to bring back the "gallows," or an execution via bullet to the back of the head has not subsided.
The last time this topic was mentioned by Dmitry Medvedev on November 2. "(…) because if you are a traitor, who committed such a crime during wartime, you have no age, no nationality, and not even the right to defend your life," wrote the former Russian president in his Telegram account at the time.
Well, you see, Medvedev also agrees with Yevgeny Prigozhin. You shouldn’t think that it’s exclusively about the front, that it’s about another planet named "War." People might claim that it’s all happening somewhere far, but here on [St. Petersburg's main thoroughfare] Nevsky Prospect street, if one chucks a bottle out of a car window under a CCTV camera, then the press will be seethe till complete exhaustion. However, one won't find many traitors in the trenches [in Ukraine].
First, because it would be politically short-sighted. Second, only a few really go over to the Ukrainian side. Third, the real traitors, saboteurs, rootless cosmopolitans (aka liberals), and spies are always in the rear.
And if anyone brushes off the fact [under the illusion] that it is impossible to split heads open here, in Russia, because it’s impossible by definition, then let me poke your nose amongst the very same people. The same people who keep silent only in Pushkin’s "Boris Godunov" play, but in real life always demand the blood of the guilty. The masses are not eating their fill in the food warehouses. They do not need the law; they need the truth. They’ll get off at the central square, and gasp as some embezzler will be stuck on a pike...
So, "a traitor" is an elastic concept. On November, 13th, the old meanings and rules were crossed out. It’s possible to extend the guise of an enemy to many people. But, naturally it won’t happen to you specifically. This is a typical notion of an aggravated struggle riding the wave of a new religious doctrine.