May 15, 2023
Wagner mercenary boss offered to reveal Russian troop positions to Kyiv: report
The founder of the Wagner mercenary group repeatedly offered to betray Russian troop positions to Kyiv if Ukrainian forces agreed to pull out of Bakhmut, according to a bombshell leak. Secret documents disclosed on the instant messaging platform Discord detailed Yevgeny Prigozhin’s alleged attempts to sell out Russian regulars as part of a quid-pro-quo deal with Ukrainian intelligence, the Washington Post reported Sunday. The newspaper reported, citing the leaks, that the head of Vladimir Putin’s private army made the offers in January, nearly a full year into the war. In return, Prigozhin reportedly wanted Ukrainian troops to leave Bakhmut in the east, which Wagner fighters have been battling to capture for the past nine months. According to the publication, Ukraine’s federal intelligence agency, known as HUR, ultimately decided to reject Prigozhin’s overtures because it did not trust Putin’s crony to deliver on his promises. Prigozhin on Monday dismissed the claims laid out in the Washington Post’s article as “nonsense,” while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed it was a “hoax.” Wagner fighters, tens of thousands of whom have been drawn from Russia’s sprawling prison system, have been leading the bloody campaign to seize Bakhmut, which has been dubbed a “meat grinder” due to the intensity of the fighting. Prigozhin has emerged as a vocal critic of Russia’s MILITARY establishment, publicly accusing top brass of betraying his men by denying them sufficient quantities of ammunition, resulting in unusually high casualty rates. Prigozhin’s feud with the defense ministry escalated to a new level earlier this month, when he threatened to withdraw his forces from Bakhmut ahead of Russia’s May 9 Victory Day celebrations. Prigozhin ultimately backpedaled on his threat to pull his forces out of the city, but he has continued haranguing military brass about supply issues, and last week blasted Russian regular troops for abandoning their positions on the northern and southern flanks of Bakhmut. Over the past seven days, Ukrainian forces have made their biggest gains in six months , recapturing territory in and around Bakhmut while pushing the enemy back. “The advance of our troops along the Bakhmut direction is the first success of offensive actions in the defense of Bakhmut,” Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of ground forces, said in a statement on the Telegram app. “The last few days have shown that we can move forward and destroy the enemy even in such extremely difficult conditions,” he said. “We are fighting with fewer resources than the enemy. At the same time, we are able to ruin its plans.” In an audio message posted by his press service on Telegram Monday, Prigozhin suggested that the story about his alleged offer to betray Russian positions to the enemy might have been concocted by his enemies within Russia. “Who is behind this? I think that either some journalists decided to hype, or comrades from Rublyovka have now decided to make up a beautiful, planted story,” he said, referring to an upscale Moscow neighborhood known as the home of Russia’s moneyed business elite. Prigozhin also denied having met Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukrainian military intelligence, in an unspecified country in Africa, as mentioned in one of the leaked files cited by the Washington Post. The paramilitary boss insisted he had not been on the continent since the start of the Ukraine invasion and portrayed the idea of a phone call with Budanov as laughable. Peskov, Kremlin’s spokesperson, told journalists Monday that he could not comment on the Washington Post report, except to say, “It looks like another hoax.” With Post wires
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Raye review – a triumphant act of independence and naked ambition
Sep 27, 2023
Royal Albert Hall, LondonBacked by the Heritage Orchestra, Raye’s hard-fought songs have extra drama, especially when, with radical vulnerability, she sings in her underwear‘No string section, no tiny violin,” goes Raye’s Oscar Winning Tears. She glances over her shoulder and behind her, in a divine sense of irony, is the entire Heritage Orchestra. For one night only at the Royal Albert Hall, the dreams of Rachel Keen are reclaimed in glorious Technicolor: a live, recorded performance of her debut album My 21st Century Blues on a scale befitting the vision she has fought for almost a decade to execute. Having been cuffed to Polydor for seven years, who allowed her (now Mercury-nominated) record to stagnate while they doled out her talents for daiquiri-syrup dance hits, tonight’s operatic reimagining is a triumphant statement of independence.It makes for an incredible collision of worlds: the orchestra bleeds into Raye’s south London DNA, bringing the inherent drama of her music into sharp relief. Fortified by the thrill of strings and an entire choir, the hypnotic dance track Black Mascara reaches biblical levels of retribution. In an album laced with trauma, this musical heft matches the weight of its emotion. Mary Jane, a stripped-back confessional that grapples with addiction, is now replete with lavish saxophone solos and guitar riffs. Raye makes no attempt to hide her enchantment, waving her arms as if conducting the symphony herself, relishing every twist and turn. Punctuated with costume changes from one timeless gown to another, it feels like the realisation of a childhood fantasy. Continue reading...
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