Albanian Prime Minister Shares Putin Joke Publicly
During the Bled Strategic Forum, an international security conference held in Slovenia, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama shared a humorous anecdote about Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and the hypothetical demise of PMC Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
In a video clip from his speech, the politician asked the event participants if they were aware of Russia's intention to unify its time zones due to the significant time difference between its eastern and western territories. He then continued to narrate a joke, which elicited laughter from the audience.
"The Prime Minister goes to Putin and says, 'There's a problem. My family was on vacation, and I called them to say goodnight, but it was already morning for them. I called Olaf Scholz to wish him a happy birthday, but he said his birthday is tomorrow. I called Xi Jinping to wish him a Happy New Year, but he told me they are still celebrating the old year.' And Putin replies, 'Yes, the same happened to me. I called Prigozhin's family to offer condolences, but his plane hadn't taken off yet,'" recounted the Albanian Prime Minister.
As The Gaze reported, Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef," has been a prominent figure in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, despite consistent criticism from the Russian military leadership. In late June, he initiated a state coup known as the "March on Moscow," during which Wagner's forces gained control of two major cities in southern Russia. They shot down two helicopters and an aircraft en route to Moscow, resulting in the deaths of at least 13 soldiers. Following negotiations facilitated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the members of Wagner left their camps and relocated to Belarus in exile.
Last month, Prigozhin announced that Wagner operatives would move to Africa, where the group had continued to participate as mercenaries in various conflicts. He later appeared in a video, stating his mission to "make Russia even greater on all continents."
Despite Prigozhin seemingly being reintegrated into Russian security services, U.S. officials expressed expectations of consequences. William Burns, the Director of the CIA, remarked at the Aspen Security Forum last month, "Putin is someone who generally thinks that revenge is a dish best served cold, so I would be surprised if Prigozhin avoids further retribution."
On August 23, 2023, a plane carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed during a flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg in the Tver region, northwest of Moscow, near the village of Kuzhenkino. The aviation accident claimed the lives of all 10 individuals on board, including three crew members, as reported by Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations (MNS).
According to the flight tracking website Flightradar24, the crashed plane was the same Embraer Legacy frequently used by Prigozhin for travel within Russia and even to Africa. In recent times, the aircraft had been flying to Belarus.