End of a Wagner opera?

Today, perhaps, the last members of the Wagner Group are finally saying goodbye to the realm of megalomania into which they followed their boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. A nightmare world in which Wagner was on the verge of assuming military power in the Russian state.

The campaign lasted only a few days, but now the Wagner group is apparently on the verge of dissolution. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced yesterday what three options Prigozhin's soldiers now have – by the way, gender language should really be superfluous here. If there are any Wagner soldiers who have subscribed to this newsletter, they are of course included, ladies! Вы включены!

Prigozhin's soldiers can now sign contracts with the regular Russian army, or emigrate to Belarus, or just go home.

Whatever the Wagnerians decide, they will have to reinvent themselves. No more irregular missions on African soil, for example. No more cheerful pillaging, bloodshed and plundering of mineral resources, no more "working" where other people just want to live humanely – what is the Wagner mercenary supposed to do with himself now? How to free yourself from the lack of prospects? How do you retrain from a self-proclaimed elite fighter to a normal attack warrior? What will become of Russia's powerful private army and its suitcases of money?

These questions (at least the serious part) will be answered today by our colleague Aleksandar Sarovic. In addition, our foreign team is planning a graphic analysis that will show where on Russian soil attacks are taking place or have taken place.

And we are publishing a guest article by the Green thought leader Ralf Fücks from the Center for Liberal Modernity, who, together with his co-author Maria Sannikova, deals with the question of what follows from the coup attempt for Western politics. One of his theses: "Unconditional support for Ukraine is the most direct path to the end of the Putin regime."

News and background information on the war in Ukraine can be found here:

  • Putin's message to the mercenaries: Join the army – or "go to Belarus": He thanks the Wagner mercenaries for their efforts at the front in Ukraine. But Kremlin chief Putin made it clear in his speech to the nation that he would not allow himself to be blackmailed by them. The insurgents are left with only two options.

  • "Maybe it was just an expression of his crooked psyche": Kimberly Marten has long been researching the feud between Wagner boss Prigozhin and Defense Minister Shoigu. She explains what the mercenary leader might have been up to – and what scenarios are now available to him.

End of artistic freedom

Rule of law meets social media, today before the Higher Regional Court of Hamm. The case of a suspected Corona denier who posted a photo montage on Facebook that combined the face of the Hamburg police spokesman with the uniformed body of an SS Oberscharführer is being examined. In addition, the statement: "You are only carrying out your orders."

Incitement to hatred – yes or no? How would you decide?

In this context, while you are still thinking, I would like to point out today's presentation of the annual report on anti-Semitism. The Federal Government Commissioner for this sad issue, Felix Klein, draws a conclusion of the anti-Semitic incidents in Germany last year.

If you still have strength and a good mood left, you can listen to Ferda Ataman: The Independent Federal Anti-Discrimination Commissioner is also presenting her annual report in Berlin today.

Who is sitting next to Steinmeier?

It is a special kind of school trip that brings a special group of people to the Ruhr area today: Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has invited all ambassadors of foreign countries working in Germany to visit Mülheim an der Ruhr, Essen and the southern Münsterland.

The tour group flies off together from Berlin, one suspects the traffic jam of the company limousines in front of the airport. And how do you imagine the psychosocial dynamics on this expedition? Will one or the other representative of a small state throw all diplomatic customs overboard in the hunt for a selfie with the German president? Are there diplomats who don't want to sit next to each other? Who envy each other a seat near Steinmeier? Formally, the ranking of diplomats within the Corps is determined by the date of their letter of accreditation, insiders explain – the older it is, the higher ranking you are.

For some diplomats, the trip to the Ruhr area may be a premiere, for others it may be more of an excursion home. Think of Ahmet Başar Şen, the Turkish ambassador to Germany. Turkey operates 16 consulates general here, more than any other country, five of them in North Rhine-Westphalia.

In addition to Steinmeier, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is also on a trip to South Africa today. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Christian Lindner only made it to Ettersburg in Thuringia, where he met his counterparts from Poland and France in the "Weimar Triangle" discussion format.

And former German Chancellor Angela Merkel travels to Paris, where the elite university Sciences Po awards her an honorary doctorate. The reason is Merkel's services to german-French relations and her role in the refugee crisis of 2015. Has anyone already asked Friedrich Merz if he would like to congratulate Merkel on this honor? Be careful, he is a bit sensitive to such requests these days.

End of toxic power structures

One often hears from readers that research on the subject of #MeToo is primarily of interest to us media people. Normal people would have had enough of it. For them, the idea of being innocently suspected of being #MeToo is more off-putting.

The number of readers of our reports cannot confirm this claim: the interest is always enormous. And this Thursday, June 29, starting at 20 p.m., SPIEGEL subscribers will have the opportunity to experience two of our experts for such research. In the SPIEGEL Backstage format, Juliane Löffler and Ann-Katrin Müller, together with our legal advisor Sascha Sajuntz, will report on how SPIEGEL deals with research into these delicate processes, such as the recent case of the lead singer of the band Rammstein.

For the exclusive subscriber event, we are giving away ten free accesses. Interested parties can write to info@events.spiegel.de, subject: SPIEGEL Backstage Raffle. The deadline for entries is tomorrow, Wednesday, June 28, at 12 noon.

If you have a subscription, you can register directly via this link:

  • Rammstein, Julian Reichelt, Luke Mockridge: This is how the research went - DER SPIEGEL

Click here for the current daily quiz

The starting question today: Which of these countries has not joined the Schengen Agreement?

Loser of the day ...

... is Rupert Stadler, ex-CEO of Audi and the first top manager to face criminal justice for the diesel scandal. Today's ruling by the Munich I Regional Court marks the end of a trial that has been underway since September 2020. It will probably come down to a suspended sentence for Stadler, based on a deal between the court and the parties to the proceedings – confession in exchange for probation.

Does this mean that Stadler is a loser or a winner? The answer is not easy for our correspondent Martin Hesse, who accompanied the trial. On the one hand, Stadler would have been in prison for a long time, lost his reputation, and sat in the courtroom every week for over two and a half years.

On the other hand, Martin wrote to me: "The loser is perhaps more the general sense of justice." At Audi, there have been many suspected diesel perpetrators, but in the case of quite a few, the proceedings would probably now be discontinued against a fine. The verdict comes a good seven years after the scandal – "it is therefore worth little from my point of view". And: "Basically, Audi as a company would have belonged in the dock, but there is no corporate criminal law in Germany."

  • Rupert Stadler's confession in the diesel scandal: "Yes" and again "yes" – and not a word more from the ex-Audi boss

The latest news from the night

  • »This is secret information, look« – audio recording of Trump surfaced: This will be difficult to explain in court: The ex-US president does not want to have known that he had embezzled secret documents. On an audio recording published by CNN, he can now be heard bragging about it.

  • The federal and state governments are burning corona masks en masse: They came late - and then there were tens of millions too many: protective masks purchased during the corona pandemic reach their expiration date and have to be destroyed. Politicians have sharply criticized the project.

  • Dolphins also speak to their offspring in "baby language": High-pitched voice, clear pronunciation, longer pauses – it's not just many people who talk to babies and toddlers in this way. According to a team of researchers, bottlenose dolphins change their whistles when they communicate with their calves.

The SPIEGEL+ recommendations for today

  • The man behind the world's most dangerous hacker group: Yevgeny Serebryakov heads the notorious Sandworm hackers, feared for attacks on election campaigns and blackouts in Ukraine. SPIEGEL has analyzed his master's thesis, revealing his crude view of the world.

  • This is how you get on holiday cheaply: Hoping for last-minute deals is hardly worth it this year. With a few tricks, you can still save a lot of money when booking holiday apartments or flights. We have collected the most important tips.

  • "The myth of the wild African has burned itself into people's minds": Safari and poverty and nothing in between: this is how many people still see Africa today, claims Dipo Faloyin. Here he talks about white saviour, elephants in front yards – and the damage of songs like »Do They Know It's Christmas«.

  • The rise of the "House of the Kebab" – and what bothers Netflix about it: A nationwide successful chain? So far, no one has been able to do this on the hotly contested kebab market. »Haus des Döners« now relies on bait offers and the charisma of a world-famous series – not without risk.

I wish you a good start to the day.

Melanie Amann, Member of the Editor-in-Chief