The Kremlin denies its involvement in Prigozhin’s death and blames Wagner

The Kremlin this Friday denied its involvement in the assassination of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. The oligarch died on the outskirts of Moscow on Wednesday afternoon after the plane he was traveling in with nine other people, including his lieutenant, Wagner commander Dmitri Utkin, was shot down. “It’s an absolute lie, this issue needs to be addressed based on facts.”declared the Kremlin spokesman in his daily press appearance, Dmitry Peskovwhen asked about Western leaders’ speculation about President Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the incident.

The Russian leader broke his silence 24 hours after the plane crash that killed Prigozhin and he decapitated the mercenary group with a single blow. Two months earlier, the oligarch had led the “March of Justice” to Moscow, an armed uprising against the army’s leadership for the course of the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine, during which he sacrificed hundreds of his mercenaries, particularly in the capture the destroyed city of Bakhmut.

Prelude to his meeting with Denis Puschlin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Putin spared no praise for the head of his catering service. “He was a talented person, a talented businessman,” said the Russian President. “He got the results he needed for himself and when I needed him for the common cause, like these last few months.” But he pointed it out in a cold and calculating tone he was “a man with a difficult fate” and had “serious mistakes in his life” committed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds an operational meeting in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds an operational meeting in MoscowMICHAEL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/KREMLINEFE

“There is a lot of speculation surrounding the plane crash and the tragic death of the passengers, including Yevgeny Prigozhin, and we already know in which direction the speculation is taking in the West,” Peskov slipped. Spokesman avoided confirming Putin’s presence at Prigozhin’s funeral, a close ally he had known since the tumultuous St. Petersburg of the 1990s. “None of us knows how long the necessary evidence and actions related to the investigation will take.” Therefore, now that there are no dates for the funeral etc., it is impossible to even talk about it,” the statement said , collected by the state agency TASS, the Kremlin spokesman said.

Putin on Thursday promised a “thorough” investigation into the case. Meanwhile, in the press room, Peskov insisted that the investigation into the cause of the plane crash would continue. At this time, authorities have not put forward the theory of the accident, nor that of a bomb or missile, nor that of pilot error. There are different officials in the USA, France, Germany and Ukraine express their suspicion that the Kremlin was behind the death of Prigozhin. In this sense, the theory of the existence of an explosive device in the aircraft gains weight.

It would not be the first time. A long list of disgraced Putin opponents or former supporters have been assassinated or attempted assassinations, although the Kremlin has consistently denied involvement in such cases. But the Russian President’s closest ally, his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, has come to his defence: “I can not imagine that. I know Putin. He is a reasonable man, very calm».

Mercenaries will swear allegiance to Russia

Putin, who appears determined to avoid further backlash while Wagner and other paramilitary forces fight in Ukraine, Africa and the Middle East, signed a decree on Friday requiring its members to take an oath as it did regular army soldiers do. The mercenaries They will be forced to swear allegiance and loyalty to Russia“strictly obey the orders of commanders and superiors” and “sacredly respect the Russian Constitution”.

Prigozhin resigned from his mutiny after an agreement was reached for his exile with his men in Belarus and for the charges against him to be dropped. After his presumed death, the Doubts about the future of the militia and its membersaccused of all kinds of abuses in their intervention scenarios, including torture and extrajudicial executions.

The Kremlin said on Friday it didn’t know what would happen to the organization. “I can’t say anything about his future at the moment, I don’t know,” said Peskow. But Lukashenko seems to have it clearer. Wagner lived, lives and will live in Belarus. The core (of Wagner) stays here (…) In a few days the whole world will be here, up to 10,000 people»the autocrat said in statements collected by state news agency Belta.

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