The founder of the private mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has died on board the plane, which crashed with no survivors and suspicions of a possible demolition are growing.
Not only did Prigozhin enjoy Vladimir Putin’s greatest trust, so much so that he was dubbed his “personal chef,” he oversaw a mutiny that posed one of the Kremlin’s greatest challenges during the Ukraine war.
For years, Prigozhin was a personality who grew rich in the chaos and opportunities of the post-Soviet Russian economy.. His popularity was enhanced by his group’s close involvement in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which secured partial victories for the Kremlin.
However, Prigozhin led an armed uprising against Putin two months ago, on June 23 precisely, after criticizing the country’s top military commanders. for his handling of the Ukraine war. His group began marching on Moscow, shooting down military planes and killing Russian soldiers.
His uprising was stopped by the intervention of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, with whom he negotiated an agreement. The criminal charges were dropped and he would travel to Belarus for residency. Putin, meanwhile, has claimed that those who tread the “path of treason” face punishment.
The relationship with Putin
Putin and Prigozhin have known each other since the 1990s. According to Russian media reports, the two met after Prigozhin was released after serving a nine-year sentence for fraud and theft.
After his release from prison, he went into the restaurant business.. Putin turned to him to provide food for his birthday parties and dinners with leaders of other nations, like the ones he had with George Bush or the Frenchman Jacques Chirac. He became known in the press as Putin’s “personal chef”.
Afterward, Prigozhin secured lucrative catering contracts for schools and the Russian military. He accompanied Putin to his food factories and was a member of the Kremlin building a business empire.
His transformation from wealthy oligarch to brutal warlord It came after the Russian-backed separatist movement in Donbass in 2014. Prigozhin founded Wagner that year as a mercenary organization fighting both in Ukraine and increasingly for Russian-backed causes around the world.