ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — President Vladimir Putin just isn’t planning to attend the funeral for Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Kremlin mentioned, following reviews that the mercenary chief who challenged the Russian chief’s authority could be buried Tuesday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov would not say the place or when the chief of the Wagner Group army firm could be buried, including that he couldn’t touch upon a personal household ceremony.
St. Petersburg’s Fontanka information outlet and another media mentioned the 62-year-old Prigozhin may very well be laid to relaxation as early as Tuesday on the metropolis’s Serafimovskoye cemetery, which has been used for high-profile army burials. Heavy police cordons encircled the cemetery, the place Putin’s mother and father are additionally buried, however no service was instantly held and police left.
Later within the day, a funeral was held at St. Petersburg’s Northern Cemetery for Wagner’s logistics chief Valery Chekalov, who died within the Aug. 23 crash alongside Prigozin, in keeping with Fontanka.
The tight secrecy and confusion surrounding the funeral of Prigozhin and his prime lieutenants mirrored a dilemma confronted by the Kremlin amid swirling hypothesis that the crash was doubtless a vendetta for his mutiny.
Whereas it tried to keep away from any pomp-filled ceremony for the person branded by Putin as a traitor for his revolt, the Kremlin could not afford to denigrate Prigozhin, who was given Russia’s highest award for main Wagner forces in Ukraine and was idolized by most of the nation’s hawks.
Putin’s feedback on Prigozhin’s demise mirrored that cautious stand. He famous final week that Wagner leaders “made a big contribution” to the combating in Ukraine and described Prigozhin as a ”gifted businessman” and “a person of inauspicious destiny” who had “made critical errors in life.”
The nation’s prime prison investigation company, the Investigative Committee, formally confirmed Prigozhin’s demise on Sunday.
The committee didn’t say what might need brought on Prigozhin’s enterprise jet to plummet from the sky minutes after taking off from Moscow for St. Petersburg. Simply earlier than the crash, Prigozhin had returned from a visit to Africa, the place he sought to broaden Wagner Group’s actions.
Prigozhin’s second-in-command, Dmitry Utkin, a retired army intelligence officer who gave the mercenary group its title primarily based on his personal nom de guerre, was additionally among the many 10 individuals who died within the crash.
A preliminary U.S. intelligence evaluation concluded that an intentional explosion brought on the airplane to crash, and Western officers have pointed to an extended checklist of Putin’s foes who’ve been assassinated. The Kremlin rejected Western allegations the president was behind the crash as an “absolute lie.”
The crash got here precisely two months after Prigozhin launched a revolt in opposition to the Russian army management. The brutal and profane chief ordered his mercenaries to take over the army headquarters within the southern metropolis of Rostov-on-Don after which started a march on Moscow. They downed a number of army plane, killing greater than a dozen pilots.
Putin denounced the revolt as “treason” and vowed to punish its perpetrators however hours later struck a deal that noticed Prigozhin ending the mutiny in alternate for amnesty and permission for him and his troops to maneuver to Belarus.
The destiny of Wagner, which till not too long ago performed a outstanding function in Russia’s army marketing campaign in Ukraine and was concerned in quite a few African and Center Jap international locations, is unsure.
Putin mentioned Wagner fighters may signal a contract with the Russian army, transfer to Belarus or retire from service. A number of thousand have deployed to Belarus, the place they’re in a camp southeast of the capital, Minsk.