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Russian President Putin Declines to Attend Yevgeny Prigozhin's

Published September 21, 2023
8 months ago

The Kremlin, Russia's central government, has announced that President Vladimir Putin will not attend the funeral of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the former head of the Wagner Group military organization, according to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson.

Reports from the Fontanka news outlet in St. Petersburg suggested that the 62-year-old Prigozhin could be buried at the city's Serafimovskoye cemetery which has historically been used for high-end military burials. Despite tighter security measures and increased police patrols around the cemetery, no funeral services have been confirmed so far.

The insight into Prigozhin's secretive burial arrangements underscores the predicament the Kremlin finds itself in, with speculation linking the fatal plane crash to a vendetta against Prigozhin's defiance of Putin. Prigozhin, who was bestowed Russia's highest award for leading Wagner forces in Ukraine, contributed significantly to military efforts in Ukraine and was highly regarded by Russia's nationalist hawks.

Publicly acknowledging Prigozhin's role in Ukraine, President Putin referred to him as a "talented businessman" encountering "a difficult fate". Despite substantial contributions to Russian military endeavours, Prigozhin was known to have made grave errors during his life, Putin noted.

As revelations of Prigozhin's death cause a stir, it is crucial to remember his diverse roles. Known as "Putin's chef", Prigozhin utilized his profitable catering contracts with the government to serve Russia's political interests, aiding to bolster its international influence by deploying his mercenaries to conflicted zones in Syria, Libya, and the Central African Republic.

This unexpected turn in event has not surprisingly, raised several questions about the future of Wagner, an elite force in Russia’s military intelligence, particularly since its versatile leader had quite recently sought to broaden Wagner Group's activities throughout Africa. However, President Putin suggested that the current Wagner mercenaries could either sign a contract with the Russian military, retire, or relocate to Belarus to continue their service.

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