FirstFT: Putin backs his defence minister

Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu has been seen in public for the first time since warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin led an uprising and called for the removal of Russia’s military elite.

The video released by the Kremlin earlier today showed Shoigu inspecting a Russian command point and receiving an update from Yevgeny Nikiforov, commander of Russia’s Western Military District.

It is not clear when or where the video was filmed but the release of the images was a clear attempt by the Kremlin to project an air of normality after the extraordinary events of the weekend that led to Wagner Group soldiers staging a mutiny and advance to within 200 miles of the Russian capital in tanks and armoured vehicles.

Prigozhin, leader of Wagner, has not been seen in public since he agreed to end the attempted coup in return for exile in Belarus. But Russian media reports today appear to contradict earlier assurances that Prigozhin would avoid prosecution for organising the insurrection, raising questions about the weekend deal brokered by Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko.

The weekend’s insurrection is the biggest challenge to President Vladimir Putin after 20 years at the top of the nuclear-armed state. In a televised response to the mutiny on Saturday Putin likened the threat to his presidency to the 1917 revolution that led to the collapse of imperial Russia and a “stab in the back” for the country.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said in a television interview on Sunday that the uprising had showed “real cracks” in Putin’s authority.

China’s foreign ministry said Beijing “supports Russia in maintaining national stability” after a meeting between foreign minister Qin Gang and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Andrei Rudenko in the Chinese capital.

What do you think of the weekend’s events in Russia? Let us know by emailing your thoughts to firstft@ft.com or hit reply on this email.

Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Earnings: Cruise ship operator Carnival reports second-quarter earnings.

  • Economic data: The Dallas branch of the Federal Reserve reports its monthly outlook survey on manufacturing activity in Texas.

  • Joe Biden: The US president kicks off his “Investing in America” infrastructure roadshow with a big funding announcement expected at the White House.

Five more top stories

1. China’s renminbi fell to a seven-month low this morning against the dollar as market concerns over slowing domestic growth and shrinking exports have compounded pressure on the currency from rising US interest rates. Read more about China’s weakening currency.

2. Saudi Arabia will send one of the biggest official delegations to this week’s “Summer Davos” in China, as Beijing deepens co-operation with the Middle East to reboot the world’s second-largest economy after three years of Covid-19 lockdowns. Read more on the first in-person World Economic Forum event in China for three years.

3. Guatemala will hold a second-round presidential election in August after a vote on Sunday failed to produce a clear winner. With more than 80 per cent of the vote counted, former first lady Sandra Torres from the centre-left UNE party was in the lead. But a large number of ballot papers had been spoiled after former frontrunner, businessman Carlos Pineda, told his supporters not to vote after he was disqualified from the contest.

  • More election news: Greece’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged to continue to steer his country out of economic turmoil after his New Democracy party won a second term in yesterday’s election.

4. BNY Mellon’s investment management arm is turning to funds that donate part of their revenue to diversity charities, even as US financial groups come under attack from “anti-woke” politicians. Hanneke Smits, chief executive of BNY Mellon Investment Management, spoke to the Financial Times about the controversial decision.

5. Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney and actor Michael B Jordan are buying a stake in the Renault-backed Alpine Formula One racing team. They will invest €200mn, alongside US-based Otro Capital and RedBird, for a 24 per cent equity stake in the team. Read more on the deal.

The Big Read

A Gucci 2024 fashion show in Seoul
A Gucci 2024 fashion show in Seoul © Justin Shin/Getty Images for Gucci

Most of Italy’s high fashion houses are still controlled by their visionary founders. Intense competition has meant Italian fashion entrepreneurs have tended to sell to foreign rather than local rivals. But there is growing awareness among Italy’s political class that brands such as Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana bring both economic prosperity at home and soft power abroad. Yet retaining Italy’s most prized brands is not guaranteed.

We’re also reading . . .

Chart of the day

Bar chart of Q1 2023 showing US CRE foreclosures by property type

A long-anticipated reckoning in the US commercial property industry is under way. Sharply rising interest rates, a regional banking crisis that curtailed credit and a trend towards remote work are all wreaking havoc. Older office buildings have borne the brunt of the downturn, but other real estate categories have not been spared.

Take a break from the news

To celebrate Pride month, senior executives from Goldman Sachs, LinkedIn, Lloyds and more share their experiences of coming out at work.

Robyn Grew, with short hair and glasses, wearing a blue checked shirt, stands in front of a Pride flag
Man Group chief Robyn Grew says she has experienced some disapproval during her career for being openly gay but mostly support © Richard Cannon/FT

Additional contributions by Tee Zhuo and Benjamin Wilhelm