Thu. Sep 28th, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — A personal funeral has been held for Yevgeny Prigozhin, ending his tumultuous journey from St. Petersburg avenue thug to Kremlin-financed mercenary chief. His spokespeople mentioned Tuesday the closed service got here lower than per week after he was killed in a airplane crash, two months following his transient mutiny that challenged the authority of President Vladimir Putin.

“Those that want to bid their farewell” to the 62-year-old mercenary chief ought to go to the Porokhovskoye cemetery in St. Petersburg, his hometown, in response to a terse on-line assertion by his press service.

It wasn’t clear from the assertion whether or not Prigozhin has was buried, however some media cited unidentified sources as saying Prigozhin was laid to relaxation earlier Tuesday with none publicity, per his household’s needs.

Prigozhin’s funeral preparations have been shrouded in secrecy, though Putin’s spokesman mentioned he wouldn’t attend the service. The president had decried the armed revolt in June as “treason” and “a stab within the again.”

The tight secrecy and confusion surrounding the funeral of Prigozhin and his high lieutenants mirrored a dilemma confronted by the Kremlin amid swirling hypothesis that the crash was probably a vendetta for his June 23-24 rebellion.

Whereas it tried to keep away from any pomp-filled ceremony for him, the Kremlin could not afford to denigrate Prigozhin, who reportedly obtained Russia’s highest award for main Wagner forces in Ukraine and was idolized by lots of the nation’s hawks.

Putin’s feedback on Prigozhin’s loss of life 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 ”proficient businessman” and “a person of inauspicious destiny” who had “made severe errors in life.”

Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin political analyst, famous that Prigozhin has turn into a legendary determine for his supporters who’re more and more crucial of the authorities.

“Prigozhin’s funeral raises a problem of communication between the bureaucratic Russian authorities system that does not have a lot political potential and politically lively patriotic phase of the Russian public,” Markov mentioned.

The nation’s high legal investigation company, the Investigative Committee, formally confirmed Prigozhin’s loss of life on Sunday.

The committee didn’t say what might need prompted Prigozhin’s enterprise jet to plummet from the sky on Aug. 23, minutes after taking off from Moscow for St. Petersburg. Simply earlier than the crash, Prigozhin had reportedly returned from a visit to Africa, the place he sought to develop Wagner Group’s actions.

Additionally on Tuesday, a funeral was held at St. Petersburg’s Northern Cemetery for Wagner’s logistics chief Valery Chekalov, who was among the many 10 individuals killed within the crash. Prigozhin’s second-in-command, Dmitry Utkin, a retired army intelligence officer who gave the mercenary group its identify primarily based on his personal nom de guerre, additionally was killed.

A preliminary U.S. intelligence evaluation concluded that an intentional explosion prompted the airplane to crash, and Western officers have pointed to a protracted record of Putin’s foes who’ve been assassinated. The Kremlin rejected Western allegations the president was behind the crash as an “absolute lie.”

Though each have been from St. Petersburg, Prigozhin and Putin weren’t identified to be significantly shut.

Prigozhin, an ex-convict who earned thousands and thousands and his nickname “Putin’s chef” from profitable authorities catering contracts, served Kremlin political pursuits and helped develop Russia’s clout by sending his mercenaries to Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic and different nations. Wagner, one of the vital succesful parts of Moscow’s forces, performed a key position in Ukraine the place it captured the Ukrainian jap stronghold of Bakhmut in late Could.

The crash got here precisely two months after the brutal and profane mercenary boss launched a revolt towards the Russian army management. Prigozhin 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 had vowed to punish the individuals however hours later struck a deal that noticed Prigozhin ending the mutiny in change 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 distinguished position in Russia’s army marketing campaign in Ukraine and was concerned in various African and Center Japanese nations, 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 went to Belarus, the place they’re in a camp southeast of the capital, Minsk.


Related Press author Dasha Litvinova in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed.

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