President Vladimir Putin has broken his silence on the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group that orchestrated a failed rebellion against Russia’s top military leaders.
This Thursday, the president appeared publicly and gave his first statement about the incident suffered by the private plane in which Prigozhin was traveling.
Despite all the rumors suggesting that it was Putin himself who ordered the assassination of the leader of the Wagner group, during the statements, the president was calm and assured that the authorities are already carrying out an investigation.
“They launched an investigation into this incident, and it will be carried out in full and reach a conclusion. Let’s see what the investigators say,” he said.
During the speech, Putin recalled the close relationship he once had with Prigozhin and described him as “a talented person” who made “serious mistakes in life.”
The president also referenced the other people aboard the plane when it crashed, saying at least early data from the investigation suggests they were employees of the Wagner group and sending his “sincere condolences to the families of all the victims.”
Vladimir Putin sends 'sincere condolences' and says Yevgeny Prigozhin 'made serious mistakes in his life' in first comments addressing the plane crash that reportedly killed Prigozhin and nine others.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 24, 2023
Rumors of murder
A Telegram channel close to the Wagner mercenary group claimed that the aircraft in which Prigozhin was traveling was shot down by anti-aircraft batteries of the Russian Armed Forces due to the enmity between the leader of the Wagner group and the Russian regime.
It is not the first time that an opponent or enemy of the Kremlin has died in strange circumstances. In fact, Yevgeny Prigozhin is just the latest in a lengthy list of victims who have died suspicious deaths since Putin began serving as Russia’s prime minister in 1999.
As if that were not enough, a Reuters report revealed that flight tracking data did not find any problems on the plane until it began an unexpected and steep fall in its last 30 seconds.
Putin’s interest in Prigozhin’s death
la investigadora principal del Centro Carnegie Rusia Eurasia
According to the explanation given by Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, the rebellion that the Wagner leader orchestrated made Putin look “less powerful,” so there is good reason to believe that the president was behind the alleged accident. But even if Putin really did have nothing to do with it, he would now be personally interested in stoking those suspicions to make it look like he is taking back control.