(DailyVantage.com) – For some, the recent but short-lived rebellion of Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin may have been the reason his plane crashed recently, resulting in his death and the deaths of nine others, including another top-level Wagner commander.
But the Kremlin is having none of it.
The administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin has slammed speculations that Moscow was behind the death of the president’s one-time close confidante and ally, calling all of them “lies”.
Speaking to news outlets, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Russian government, acknowledged that there are “lots of speculations” regarding the crash of Prigozhin’s plane but accused the “West” of putting out those speculations at a certain angle. “All of it is a complete lie,” he said.
Putin also released a statement on the incident, offering condolences to the families of the fatalities and describing his former ally as a man who “made serious mistakes in his life.”
Initial reports from U.S. intelligence, as reported by the Associated Press, suggest that the Wagner boss was “very likely” made a target due to Putin’s “long history of trying to silence his critics.” U.S. intelligence also belied reports that the plane was taken down by surface-to-air missiles and said that a bomb planted on the plane or some sort of similar sabotage was used to make it crash.
President Joe Biden echoed the same sentiments, saying that he was “not surprised” given the fact that there were not a lot of important events in Russia that “Putin’s not behind.
The relationship between Putin and Prigozhin became complicated following the rebellion, which the Wagner leader staged not against his former friend but against what Prigozhin claimed was the incompetence of Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu. A deal brokered by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko between the Putin and Prigozhin camps saw the latter walk away free, seemingly without consequence, apart from moving to Belarus, where Wagner forces, fresh from grim front-line experience in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, were training Belarusian military forces.
Russian investigators also said that they had discovered 10 bodies at the crash site and confirmed Prigozhin’s death.
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