Top of Mind Thursday – June 29, 2023

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Last weekend, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries, appeared to be turning on Vladimir Putin, his friend and benefactor, in an armed march to Moscow.

Until, all of the sudden, he called off the effort and turned around. Government reports said he was seeking refuge in nearby Belarus. In a flash, Prigozhin went from being a close buddy of Putin to an enemy of the state to an outsider allowed to leave the country.

In the meantime, Sergey Surovikin, head of the Russian Air Force and a confidante of Prigozhin, appears to have been removed from his post and is being interrogated. Or, according to other reports, all is well and he is not being detained–that’s all fake news.

Neither man has been seen or heard from since Saturday. Putin is known not to tolerate dissent whatsoever, so it would not be surprising to hear that one or both of these missing men accidentally “fell” from a tall balcony, or developed a “sudden illness” that caused their untimely deaths.

Meanwhile, the world wonders what on earth is going on in Russia, how much power Putin really has now, and how well safeguarded is that country’s large nuclear arsenal.

Wow. What a mess. It makes us appreciate living in countries where the rule of law is not bent to the whims of a tyrant, and there are checks and balances on what moves leaders and military forces are able to make.

That’s not to say democracy is perfect. But as Winston Churchill so aptly said, “Democracy is the worst form of government–except for all the others that have been tried.”

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