Prigozhin was assassinated by Ukriane, Putin's former spokesman claims

Prigozhin was assassinated by Ukriane, Putin's former spokesman claims

August 26, 2023

Yevgeny Prigozhin was assassinated ‘as a gift for Zelensky to celebrate Ukraine’s victory day today’, Putin’s former spokesman claims

  • Sergei Markov said the evidence was ‘very clear’ that Ukraine killed Prigozhin
  • Wagner plane crash: Latest updates on after Prigozhin death risks Russia mutiny 

Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed as a ‘gift to Zelensky’ from Ukraine’s intelligence service to celebrate the nation’s independence day today, Vladimir Putin’s former spokesperson has claimed.

Sergei Markov, who is a stern supporter of the Russian president and formerly a close advisor, said it was ‘absolutely clear that Prigozhin [was] killed by [the] Ukrainian intelligence service,’ the night before Ukraine 

The Wagner boss is presumed dead following a plane crash that, in spite of Markov’s claims, is widely seen as an assassination ordered by the Kremlin that also killed top officers of his private military two months on from the group’s attempted insurgency.

After blaming the Ukrainian intelligence service for the death of Prigozhin, Markov today hailed him as a ‘Russian hero’ despite the Wagner mercenary group boss only two months ago launching an attempted coup in the country. 

The former Kremlin advisor, who now parrots Russian propaganda at Moscow State University, maintained that the evidence was ‘very clear’.

A eyewitness footage of the crash site of a plane linked to Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, near Kuzhenkino, Russia, Wednesday

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky reacts during a joint press conference with Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Monday

Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin (pictured) and top officers of his private military were presumed dead in a plane crash, near Kuzhenkino, Russia, Wednesday

Addressing the death in an interview Thursday morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Markov claimed Kyiv would be ‘celebrating’ the death and would be ‘proud’ of the killing.

He said the evidence was very clear, but failed to provide any justification for his argument other than Russian propaganda television claims.

Markov added that he had ‘5 per cent doubt’ that Progozhin was dead following the plane crash. Rescuers were quick to find all 10 bodies of the passengers registered for the flight, and Russian media cited sources in Prigozhin’s Wagner private military company who confirmed his death.

The former Kremlin advisor claimed the confirmed death of Progozhin would be ‘bad news’ for Russia, hailing the caterer-turned-mercenary boss as a ‘hero of Russia and a hero of the Donetsk people’.

This comes despite Putin slamming his once trusted ally over the coup attempt in June, viewed internationally as humiliating for the Kremlin.

Following the curtailed uprising, and without mentioning Prighozin by name, Putin said the organisers of the rebellion were ‘treacherous’ and had ‘betrayed their country, their people’.

‘He was the founder and leader of the best private military group’ Markov claimed, who was fighting against ‘neo-Nazis’ – an argument Russia has persisted with in an attempt to justify their brutal bloodshed in Ukraine.

The death comes as no surprise to Western officials who have long expected the death of Prigozhin at the hands of Putin, despite the Russian president promising to drop charges in a deal that ended the June 23-24 mutiny. 

Sergei Markov 9pictured), who is stern supporter of the Russian president and formerly a close advisor, said it was ‘absolutely clear that Prigozhin [was] killed by [the] Ukrainian intelligence service’

Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to unveil the first phase of the Battle of Kursk memorial in the settlement of Ponyri, Kursk region, Russia, Wednesday

‘I don’t know for a fact what happened but I’m not surprised,’ U.S. President Joe Biden said. ‘There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind.’

Prigozhin supporters claimed on pro-Wagner messaging app channels that the plane was deliberately downed and offered different theories for how.

Police cordoned off the field where the plane crashed as investigators studied the site. Vehicles were seen driving in to take the bodies, reportedly badly charred, for a forensic exam.

At Wagner’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, lights were turned on in the shape of a large cross. Prigozhin’s supporters brought flowers to the building in an improvised memorial.

While countless theories about the events swirled, most observers saw Prigozhin’s death as Putin’s punishment for the most serious challenge to his authority of his 23-year rule.

Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, said on Telegram that ‘no matter what caused the plane crash, everyone will see it as an act of vengeance and retribution’ by the Kremlin, and ‘the Kremlin wouldn’t really stand in the way of that.’

‘From Putin’s point of view, as well as the security forces and the military – Prigozhin’s death must be a lesson to any potential followers,’ Stanovaya said in a Telegram post.

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