(RepublicanDaily.org) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged the death of one-time ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, issuing remarks recently describing the latter as a man who “made serious mistakes in his life.”
Prigozhin was the head of a private paramilitary group Wagner. He, along with Wagner commander Dmitry Utkin and eight other people, died when the private aircraft they were on crashed just 100 miles outside of Moscow.
Prigozhin staged a brief mutiny against the Russian government a few months ago, following a slew of posts on social media slamming Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, alleging that Russia’s defense arm was badly mismanaging its war and invasion of Ukraine. Following the seizure of a Russian military base, the Wagner boss ordered troops to march to Moscow with the goal of ousting Shoigu.
Putin responded, mobilizing troops and putting out a televised message where he called Prigozhin’s actions a “betrayal” and “treason.” However, the Wagner rebellion was quickly called off after Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko mediated between the two parties, reaching a deal that would see the one-time Putin ally move to Belarus without any immediate repercussions.
Prigozhin had been a long-time ally and friend of Putin, and started off as an owner of a high-end restaurant that often catered to Putin and served at state functions. He then moved into government, but mostly worked behind the scenes. He was head of Russia’s Internet Research Agency, which is said to be behind the troll farms that were allegedly used to supposedly interfere with the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S. Prigozhin only gained prominence when he founded the paramilitary group Wagner and began to participate in the invasion of Ukraine, with the support and blessing of Putin and the Russian government.
For its part, the U.S. government believes that Prigozhin was “likely killed”, and initial intelligence points to an explosive device of some sort that was put on the plane. Other reports say that Russian forces shot the plane down with an antiaircraft missile, but U.S. official say there have been no findings yet to support that claim. Russia has denied that they were behind the crash and said that all speculation that Prigozhin was assassinated was false.
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