The leader and founder of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhinwho died when his plane crashed, was buried this Tuesday in St. Petersburg in a discreet private ceremony confirmed by your company, which was not attended by President Vladimir Putin.
An AFP photographer managed to see the back of Prigozhin’s grave, who died last Wednesday at the age of 62. She, however, could not get close, since the Porojovskoye cemetery, in the former capital of the tsars, was surrounded by a cordon of security forces.
“The farewell to Yevgeny Viktorovich took place in private. People who wish to say goodbye to him can go to the Porokhovskoye cemetery,” wrote his partnership, Concord, on Telegram.
It is the first message Concord has written since Wagner’s abortive rebellion against the Russian General Staff in late June, which made Prigozhin an enemy of power.
Vladimir Putin absent from Prigozhin’s funeral
The Wagner boss and founder, a man who spent part of his youth in prison and made his fortune in the restaurant world, is originally from St. Petersburg, as is President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin had announced a few hours before that President Putin did not plan to attend the funeral of the head of the Wagner group, whom in June he described as a “traitor” for his rebellion against the leadership of the General Staff.
“The presence of the president is not expected, nor do we have specific information about the funerals,” The Kremlin spokesman told the press, Dmitry Peskov.
An adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mikhailo Podoliakironized on Telegram about Prigozhin’s “secret funerals”, a symbol according to him of Putin’s “true fear”, who fears “mass demonstrations” and for his reputation.
Who was Yevgeny Prigozhin
After years in the shade, Prigozhin became one of the most visible figures in Russian political life in the heat of the offensive in Ukraine. On Wednesday he died when his plane crashed northwest of Moscow.
The catastrophe cost the life of Prigozhin’s right hand, Dmitry Utkin, and eight other people, and raised suspicions on the Western and Ukrainian side that the Kremlin may be involved.
But Peskov brushed aside those suspicions on Friday, saying they are nothing more than an “absolute lie” and pure “speculation.”
On Sunday, the Russian Investigative Committee confirmed Prigozhin’s death based on genetic analysis, but did not mention any clues that would explain the crash, that is, whether it could have been an accident, or due to piloting error, a bomb, or a surface-to-air missile.
Putin called Prigozhin a “talented” man, but noted that he also made “serious mistakes”, vowing that the investigation would be carried out to the end.
Prigozhin renounced his rebellion on June 24 after an agreement that provided for his exile, along with his men, in Belarus, and an abandonment of the judicial proceedings against him.
However, he continued to travel to Russia, and was received at least once in the Kremlin, at the end of June. In the last video released before his death, he said he was in Africa, where he wanted to work for the “greatness” of Russia.
After announcing his death, Wagner fighters and residents of different Russian cities paid tribute to him before improvised memorials, proof of the popularity of this man among a part of the population.
His death has shocked Russian nationalist circles, which, while in favor of the military campaign in Ukraine, They often criticize the General Staff, which they accuse of incompetence and adding one setback after another.
This same Tuesday, a Moscow court maintained the arrest of the blogger and former separatist commander of eastern Ukraine Igor Guirkin. Guirkin is charged with “extremism” after criticizing Putin and the army, and faces five years in prison.