‘Serious mistakes’: Putin breaks silence on Prigozhin plane crash

World News

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke out for the first time Thursday after his one-time ally and Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was apparently killed in a plane crash Wednesday, calling the mercenary group chief “a person with a complicated fate,” multiple outlets reported.
The Russian president said he was told Prigozhin returned from Africa on Wednesday and met with officials in Moscow before the plane crash. Image: Getty
Key Takeaways
  • Putin reportedly said Prigozhin was a talented businessman who “made some serious mistakes in life, but he also achieved necessary results.”
  • The Russian president said he was told Prigozhin returned from Africa on Wednesday and met with officials in Moscow before the plane crash.
  • During a meeting broadcast on Russian television, Putin offered his condolences to the families of those on the plane and described them as “people who made a substantial contribution to our joint efforts of fighting the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine.”
News Peg

Prigozhin was said to be aboard a plane that crashed 60 miles north of Moscow on its way to St. Petersburg. All ten people aboard the plane (three pilots and seven passengers) were killed, officials said.

Key Background

Putin’s response to Wednesday’s crash has been highly anticipated. The two leaders once had a very close relationship. But a recent rebellion created tensions between the two. In June, Prigozhin led his Wagner troops in an armed rebellion inside Russia.

The Wagner Group claimed control over military facilities in a couple of Russian cities, while armed troops marched toward Moscow, but before they made it to the capital city, Putin and Prigozhin agreed to call off the fight. Prior to Prigozhin’s attempted coup, the two leaders went back some 30 years. Prigozhin worked as “Putin’s chef” earning contracts with the Russian government for his catering business. In the years before Prigozhin turned against Putin, he also helped Moscow in the annexation of Crimea.

Chief Critics

There’s been a large amount of speculation about Putin’s role in Wednesday’s plane crash. On Wednesday, when President Joe Biden was asked about the crash he told reporters, “There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind but I don’t know enough to know the answer.” U.K. authorities told the BBC on Thursday that the FSB, Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, was likely behind the crash that killed Prigozhin. Unnamed defense sources told the BBC the Wagner Group leader was targeted out of disloyalty to Putin.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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