The Kremlin confirmed on Wednesday that Russian investigators are studying all hypotheses, including the “planned crime”, in their investigations aimed at clarifying the circumstances of the crash of the plane that killed the head of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Investigators didn’t provide any explanation or evidence, a week after Prigozhin and his assistants were killed in the crash of his private plane during a flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg, while Western countries believe that the Kremlin is behind the air disaster.
In response to a question, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that the Russian investigation committee is studying all possibilities.
He said during his daily press briefing by phone, “Because the investigation didn’t reach any results, I cannot talk about matters accurately, but it’s clear that there are different stories, including the possibility of planned crime”.
Peskov add, “Let’s wait for the results of our Russian investigation”.
Peskov described the insinuations, especially from Western countries, that the Kremlin had ordered the assassination of the head of the Wagner Group, as “pure lies” and “speculation”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described Prigozhin as a “traitor” in a speech he addressed to the Russians during the Wagner Rebellion on June 23-24.
But after Prigozhin was killed, Putin said in a televised statement, “I have known Prigozhin for a very long time, since the early 90s … He made grave mistakes in his life, but he achieved the desired results”.
Prigozhin was buried on Tuesday in a closed ceremony in his home city of St. Petersburg.
However, on Wednesday, his supporters were able to come and pray at his grave, which is surmounted by a wooden cross and surrounded by flowers.
Some of them wore clothes bearing the emblem of the armed group.
Prigozhin launched his rebellion last June to overthrow the defense minister and chief of staff, whom he accused of incompetence and of preventing the supply of ammunition to his fighters in Ukraine.
The rebellion ended after about 24 hours, mediated by Belarusian leaders between the Kremlin and Wagner’s leaders, and it seemed that Prigozhin managed to escape the Kremlin’s wrath by agreeing to go into exile in Belarus and continue his activities in Africa.
For his part, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Wednesday, that he expects the operations of the Russian private military Wagner Group to continue in Africa, despite the death of its chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a plane crash.
“I am sure they will quickly find a replacement for the late Wagner leader… They will continue their activities in Africa because they represent the armed wing of Russia,” Borrell told reporters after a meeting of European Union defense ministers in Toledo, Spain.
He added that Moscow couldn’t send regular forces to the region because that would be very scandalous.
“They (Wagner) will continue to serve Putin and what they are doing, which certainly doesn’t contribute to bringing peace to the Sahel region or defending rights and freedoms in the region,” he added.