Russia: Suspected death of Prigozhin sparks speculation and sadness

Russia: Suspected death of Prigozhin sparks speculation and sadness

So far there has been no official confirmation of the mercenary leader’s death. Nevertheless, Prigozhin’s supporters are convinced of an attack and mourn. The Kremlin is also suspected abroad.

A day after the alleged death of the head of the private army Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, speculation as to the cause of the plane crash increases. The Russian Telegram news channel Shot, citing investigators, reported that the crash may have been triggered by a bomb in the area of ​​the chassis.

The Gray Zone channel, which is close to Prigozhin, had previously spread the news that the plane had been shot down by Russian air defenses. The authors wrote of murder in this regard.

Russia-wide mourning rallies

Prigozhin’s followers reacted with sadness and anger to the news of the alleged death of the 62-year-old. Masses of flowers were laid at the “Patriot” café in St. Petersburg, which many residents of the city associate with Prigozhin and his Wagner troupe, the daily newspaper “Kommersant” reported on Thursday. Mourning and commemoration campaigns were also reported from other Russian cities such as Novosibirsk.

At the former Wagner headquarters in St. Petersburg, flowers and a sledgehammer were laid, the Telegram channel Gray Zone said. The sledgehammer is considered a gruesome identification mark of the Wagner mercenaries after a video showed members of the group using it to murder an alleged defector.

On Wednesday evening, Prigozhin’s private jet en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg crashed in the Tver region. According to official information, all ten occupants died. The flight’s passenger list included Prigozhin’s name. However, the authorities have not officially confirmed the death of the rich and influential businessman. A forensic examination with DNA comparison should clarify the identity of the corpses.

Prigozhin rose to prominence in Russia as a result of Moscow’s war of aggression against Ukraine. On the one hand, after the capture of the city of Bakhmut by his Wagner troops after months of bloody fighting, he was considered a comparatively successful army chief against the background of Russian defeats in Kharkiv and Cherson. On the other hand, he made a name for himself with sharp criticism of his own military leadership, which he accused of incompetence and corruption. In doing so, he gave many ordinary Russians an explanation for what they saw as the unsatisfactory course of the war.

Putin indirectly confirms death

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed the death of the mercenary leader. He called Prigozhin a “talented person,” Russian agencies reported on Thursday. “He was a person with a difficult fate and he made serious mistakes,” Putin said. At the same time, the businessman and mercenary leader achieved results – for himself and for the common cause.

Putin cautiously formulated that according to initial findings, a plane carrying members of Wagner’s private army had crashed the previous evening. Wagner made an important contribution to the fighting in Ukraine that will not be forgotten.

Putin expressed his condolences to the relatives. He announced a comprehensive investigation into the crash. This has already begun, but will take a while, he said at a meeting with Donetsk’s Russian head of administration, Denis Puschilin.

Kyiv denies involvement

As a precaution, another potential suspect has already denied being involved in an attack on Prigozhin. According to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine has nothing to do with the possible death of the Wagner leadership. “Everyone understands who is involved,” he told journalists on Thursday. At the same time, the death of the mercenary leadership benefits Kiev “in a certain sense”.

Baerbock: It’s no coincidence that the world is now looking at the Kremlin

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) expressed understanding for speculation about Prigozhin’s alleged death. Official Russian statements are “not reliable,” she said on the sidelines of a meeting with her Kyrgyz counterpart Dscheenbek Kulubayev in Berlin. Again and again the Kremlin lied to you. “So it’s no coincidence that the whole world is watching the Kremlin even now when a disgraced ex-Putin confidant suddenly literally falls out of the sky two months after he rehearsed an uprising.”

You know this pattern, said Baerbock and mentioned “deaths and dubious suicides, window crashes, all of which ultimately remain unsolved”. The Green politician called it important “not to trust any claims, fake news or promises made by the Russian President”, but to support Ukraine in its right to self-defense “with everything we have”.

Lithuania: Prigozhin’s fate changes little in the security situation

Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda also suspected the Kremlin of having eliminated Prigozhin. “It shows that the regime is entering the next phase and these people, whatever you call them, are already fighting each other,” he said during a visit to Ukraine, according to Lithuanian media reports. But that has no impact on the security situation. “Prigozhin’s death, if actually confirmed, will change little,” he said.

Source: Stern

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