Putin to Skip Funeral of Wagner’s Prigozhin, Kremlin Says

Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t plan to attend the funeral of Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in a plane crash.

(Bloomberg) — Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t plan to attend the funeral of Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in a plane crash.

“There are no plans for the president to attend,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Tuesday, according to the Interfax news service. “We don’t have any information about the funeral. This is a decision for family and friends.”

Russian investigators on Sunday confirmed Prigozhin’s death in the crash, as speculation continued to swirl over a possible Kremlin-ordered execution. All 10 passengers and crew, including some of Prigozhin’s top lieutenants, listed as having been onboard the Embraer SA Legacy 600 private jet died when it crashed en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg on Aug. 23. 

Later Tuesday, Prigozhin’s press service said on Telegram that a “farewell” for the mercenary chief had been held in a closed ceremony, and those wishing to pay respects could visit the Porokhovskoe cemetery, which is in St. Petersburg. It wasn’t possible to verify the information, and there’s been no public indication the authorities have released the body yet. 

Read more: Russia Rejects US Claims Putin Likely Approved Prigozhin Killing

Prigozhin led a failed revolt in June against Putin’s military leaders that threatened the Russian ruler’s nearly quarter-century grip on power. The US has said the plane crash may have been an assassination approved by Putin himself, suggestions the Kremlin dismissed as an “absolute lie.” Early US assessments indicated the jet may have been destroyed by a bomb, American officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In his first comments on the crash, Putin said on state TV that he’d known Prigozhin a long time and considered him a “talented businessman,” but one who’d “made serious mistakes in life.” He had earlier denounced the June rebellion as “treason,” saying it had brought Russia to the brink of “civil war.”

Prigozhin had sought to oust Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, a close Putin ally, and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov during the mutiny, blaming them for failures in Russia’s faltering war in Ukraine and accusing them of seeking to “destroy” Wagner. Putin has stood by both men.

Read more: Putin Bolsters Power Base After Prigozhin Dies in Jet Crash

The Wagner founder led the private military company as it supported Kremlin efforts on battlefields in Ukraine, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. At its peak, Prigozhin’s group had about 50,000 mercenaries — many of them criminals recruited directly from prison — fighting in Ukraine, which Russia invaded in February 2022.

(Updates with Prigozhin’s press service in fourth paragraph.)

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