Russian President Vladimir Putin has swiftly implemented a significant change following a fatal plane crash, reportedly claiming the life of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the fiery leader of the Wagner mercenary group.
In response to Western allegations that Prigozhin’s demise was orchestrated by Russia, the Kremlin labeled these claims as baseless falsehoods.
Although the Kremlin hasn’t definitively confirmed Prigozhin’s death, it awaits test results before doing so.
Reportedly aboard a crashed private jet, Prigozhin had orchestrated a failed mutiny against army chiefs just two months prior.
President Putin extended his condolences and referred to Prigozhin in the past tense, acknowledging his contributions but also his “serious mistakes.”
Putin’s response to the incident includes imposing a mandatory oath of allegiance to the Russian state for Wagner fighters and other private military contractors, a move aimed at tightening state control over such entities.
The decree, published on the Kremlin’s website, requires individuals involved in military work or supporting Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine to pledge allegiance and obedience to commanders.
Critics, primarily from the West, speculated without substantial evidence that Putin might have ordered Prigozhin’s death in retaliation for his role in a recent mutiny.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denounced these speculations as “absolute lies,” urging reliance on factual evidence instead.
As investigations into the crash continue, Russian authorities have yet to confirm the identities of the bodies recovered from the wreckage or the specific cause of the crash.
Peskov emphasized the need for conclusive results from tests and investigative efforts before making official statements.
The prospect of Prigozhin’s funeral holds significance, potentially highlighting differing narratives.
Some expect Putin to downplay the event if he intends to portray Prigozhin as a traitor.
Conversely, Prigozhin’s supporters might seize the occasion to celebrate his criticism of Kremlin conduct, possibly fueling dissent among Wagner loyalists.
While British military intelligence and the Pentagon lean towards Prigozhin’s death, Russia’s Baza news outlet, known for insider sources within law enforcement, suggests an investigation focusing on potential bomb involvement.
Regarding the future of the Wagner Group, known for its African contracts and Belarusian presence, Kremlin spokesperson Peskov offered no insights, indicating uncertainty in the absence of Prigozhin’s leadership.