Russian President Vladimir Putin said pieces of grenade were found in the bodies of Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and other mercenary leaders who died in a plane crash, as he hinted that the man who led an armed revolt against the Kremlin’s military leadership had been a drug user.
(Bloomberg) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said pieces of grenade were found in the bodies of Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and other mercenary leaders who died in a plane crash, as he hinted that the man who led an armed revolt against the Kremlin’s military leadership had been a drug user.
“In the bodies of those who died in the air crash fragments of hand grenades were found,” Putin said Thursday at the annual meeting of the Valdai Club in the Black Sea city of Sochi, citing what he said were investigators’ findings. There was no evidence of an external impact on the aircraft, he added.
“Unfortunately, they didn’t test for alcohol or narcotics in the blood of those who died,” Putin said. He went on to say that, in his view, investigators should have conducted such tests because security services “found not only 10 billion in cash, but 5 kilograms of cocaine” after searching the Wagner Group’s offices in St. Petersburg. He didn’t specify the currency.
Read more: Putin Moves to Seize Control of Prigozhin’s Mercenary Empire
Prigozhin led a failed revolt in June aimed at ousting Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov after accusing them of repeated failures in Russia’s war in Ukraine and of seeking to “destroy” Wagner. His forces came to within 200 kilometers (124 miles) of Moscow before Prigozhin called off the rebellion that Putin said brought Russia to the brink of “civil war.”
The US has said the plane crash that took place exactly two months later may have been an assassination approved by Putin himself, after the uprising that posed the greatest threat to his quarter-century rule. The Kremlin dismissed that suggestion 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.
All 10 passengers and crew listed as having been onboard the Embraer SA Legacy 600 private jet, including some of Prigozhin’s top lieutenants, died when it crashed en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg on Aug. 23.
(Corrects the amount of cash Putin said was found in Wagner offices in third paragraph.)
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