In Russia, has the fairytale author-turned-warlord just saved the king?

by Alexander Bikbov, published in openDemocracy, 4 July 2023

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner private army, once wrote kids’ stories. What can they tell us about his ‘March on Moscow’? Why call Wagner’s mutiny a second coup and which one was the first? How the beginning of Prigozhin’s story makes part of a regression of the Russian state capitalism to its neo-mercantilist mode and what its final chapter has to do with a claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force?

The final scene of the tale contains important images; the hero returns to Indraguzia with a troop of friends and a stolen magic flute that can do ‘anything’. There, he discovers that the king, who was bewitched many years before, is getting smaller every year. The once-great king’s minions and guards lament his inevitable disappearance. The hero and his friends promise to save him. They use the magic flute, reversing the constant shrinking of the monarch. But they get carried away and make him so big that he breaks through the roof of the castle and asks to return to his previous size, so as not to crush his subjects. The hero grants his request. “This is a very dangerous toy,” the king remarks, “maybe you can leave me the magic flute?” The troop agrees.

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