The Kremlin Denies Involvement in Prigozhin’s Death

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration vociferously denied any involvement in the plane crash that led to the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the armed Wagner group, despite circulating speculations of an assassination as revenge for his armed rebellion against Russian military leadership two months prior.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian presidential residence, dismissed speculations about the plane crash, calling them “a sheer lie.” He also confirmed that the investigation into the incident continues. While acknowledging Wagner’s “great contribution” to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, Peskov emphasized that the group has no formal legal existence.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ruled out Putin’s involvement in Prigozhin’s death, characterizing the Russian leader as calculated and calm in decision-making. The swift end of the rebellion led by Prigozhin and Wagner was attributed to mediation by Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin.

The report also details the various statements and reactions concerning Prigozhin’s connection to Putin, including the Kremlin’s denial of any recent meeting between the two.

In the wake of the crash, Putin enacted a decree obliging members of irregular armed groups, such as Wagner, to take an oath of loyalty to Russia. The decree emphasizes strict compliance with commanders’ orders, respect for the constitution, and defense of Russia’s independence.

Speculation over Prigozhin’s assassination continues, with Kiev and Western capitals alluding to suspicions. However, the U.S. military stated it does not have evidence linking a surface-to-air missile to the crash.

Investigators remain tight-lipped about the possible causes of the accident, which could include a planted bomb, a missile strike, or pilot error. Putin assured that the investigation will be thorough and reach a conclusion.

The Wagner group’s activities in African countries like Mali and the Central African Republic continue, despite allegations of violations, field executions, and torture. The Kremlin has expressed uncertainty regarding the group’s future.

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