Yevgeny Prigozhin shouldn’t have said "grandfather.” But it slipped out. That was last month, during one of his vulgar and lurid rants against the Russian top brass. Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, a private Russian military company, was posing in warrior gear as a Slavic Rambo, straddling the corpses of his fallen comrades and spitting expletives into the camera.

He was demanding ammo from the Russian Army for his Wagner mercenaries, so he could finish the bloody siege for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. He blasted Russia’s overall war strategy. And then, apparently carried away by rage, he heaped scorn on a "happy grandfather” who "thinks he is good.”

Up to that point, his Russian audience assumed that Prigozhin was, as part of his megalomaniacal shtick, only railing against Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and top generals. But the "grandfather” sounded an awful lot like Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president and de facto czar. Challenge or threaten Putin, and you’re done.