Vladimir Putin is in a “heightened emotional state” following the Wagner mutiny, a Russia expert says.
It makes him susceptible to manipulation, and his entourage is gaining power, said Tatiana Stanovaya.
The mutiny, although short-lived, appears to have weakened the Russian president.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is in a “heightened emotional state” following the failed mutiny from the mercenary Wagner Group, a Russia analyst said.
The short-lived rebellion led by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin involved his troops marching toward Moscow before ultimately turning around to avoid bloodshed.
The rebellion, although ultimately a failure, was the most overt challenge Putin has ever faced and has ultimately weakened him, experts say.
Now, the Russian leader has appeared to be embarking on damage control following the mutiny.
Putin appeared in public for the first time on Wednesday night during a rare walkabout in Dagestan and was photographed taking selfies, shaking hands, and even kissing a member of the public – an unusual move from the president, who is a famous germaphobe.
“Recently, his public appearances have depicted an inexplicable joy bordering on euphoria, a stark departure from his usual demeanor,” said Stanovaya.
She believes his handlers wanted to create a perceived atmosphere of Russia’s affection for the embattled 70-year-old leader.
“This could be connected to the narrative his entourage has crafted, emphasizing the universal support he receives from the elites and the immense love he enjoys from the people,” she said.
“What distinguishes the current situation is Putin’s progressive loss of initiative in dealing with domestic issues,” Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, said on Twitter. “His heightened emotional state makes him more susceptible to manipulation.
“We appear to be observing a new phase in Putin’s regime, where his entourage is becoming more actively involved in shaping its trajectory.”
Previously, Putin became extremely isolated during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which experts say led to him surrounding himself with a small circle of aides who fed him false information tailored to suit his prejudices.
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