Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a startling assertion, suggesting that a hand grenade detonation within the cabin of the aircraft carrying Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was the cause of the fatal crash, claiming his life and nine others.
During a speech at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Putin revealed that fragments of hand grenades were discovered in the bodies of the crash victims. The incident occurred on August 23 when Prigozhin was en route to St. Petersburg on a private Embraer jet, resulting in a tragic end to his journey.
The international community has previously contended that Russian forces targeted the plane with missiles in retaliation for Prigozhin’s mutiny against Putin. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, echoing these concerns, stated, “We all know that the Kremlin has a long history of killing opponents.”
Putin, however, firmly stated that there was no external interference with the plane, citing information from the head of Russia’s top investigative committee.
The crash claimed the lives of nine others, including two other prominent figures from the Wagner group. Prigozhin’s short-lived mutiny, aimed at toppling the Russian Defense Ministry’s leadership over perceived missteps in the Ukraine conflict, briefly shook the nation. His forces managed to seize control of Russia’s southern military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don before their advance halted.
Although Putin initially condemned Prigozhin as a traitor after the mutiny attempt, it appears that some form of understanding had been reached to spare him from severe consequences. The fatal plane crash occurred precisely two months after the mutiny’s commencement.