(RightWing.org) – The Wagner Group is a private military company funded by Russia, allegedly acting as a proxy for the government, carrying out operations abroad. Until this year, it was headed up by Yevgeny Prigozhin, but that all changed in a matter of a few months. In August, Prigozhin was on a plane when it crashed, leading to speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a hand in his death. Now, Putin has offered his own take on what brought that fated flight down.
Prigozhin’s Failed Coup Attempt
In June, apparently fed up with the way the Russian defense ministry was treating the Wagner Group, Prigozhin ordered a march on Moscow. The attempt at putting his foot down, however, was short-lived, and just days later, he called off the rebellion. It wasn’t without consequence, though. Putin accused Prigozhin of treason and he was eventually banished to Belarus with the aid of President Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Many speculated Prigozhin would go the way of other Putin naysayers — death by poisoning. However, that’s not exactly what happened.
Putin’s Speculation on Prigozhin’s Death
In August, Prigozhin, along with his bodyguards and two other top Wagner Group figures, departed from Moscow on a private Embraer jet. It crashed shortly after takeoff, killing everyone onboard.
Now, nearly two months later, Putin has released some details about the crash. While attending a Valdai Discussion Club meeting in Sochi, he said that “fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of those killed in the crash,” per The New York Times. Then, his story got weirder. Putin suggested that Prigozhin and those onboard were using drugs or alcohol, and while under the influence, set off the hand grenades themselves, thus sealing their fate.
However, that will be a hard fact to prove because, as Putin noted, “no examination was carried out for the presence of alcohol or drugs in the blood of the victims,” something he feels should have been done.
Investigators have already ruled out any “external impact,” such as a weapon, as the cause of the plane crash. Western officials are still of the mind that Putin could have been involved and have pointed to suspicious deaths surrounding those who have opposed the Russian president.
Putin staunchly stands by the statement that he had no involvement in Prigozhin’s death, calling Western allegations an “absolute lie,” according to The Associated Press.
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