Act of Vengence? US Media raises questions over Wagnor chief’s death
New York, Aug 28 (IANS) The ‘mysterious’ death of Wagner mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in an air crash over Russia, has raised questions on whether it was an accident or an act of vengeance by the Russian militia for his failed mutiny against President Vladimir Putin during the Ukraine war.
Prigozhin was confirmed dead after DNA swabs of the bodies from last week’s plane crash were matched, Russian officials said on Sunday.
The officials said “the identities of all 10 dead correspond to the list stated in the flight sheet” of the aircraft.
It went down north of Moscow on Wednesday several minutes after takeoff. On board were Prigozhin and some of his most senior and trusted lieutenants, media reports said.
“We will probably never know exactly what happened, but two months to the day after Prigozhin’s failed mutiny against President Vladimir Putin, most of the evidence indicates something orchestrated by the Kremlin,” alleged MO News, a US website that circulates digest of the morning news to its subscribers.
AN ACT OF VENGEANCE?
Recall June: Prigozhin was a hot dog vendor-turned Kremlin caterer-turned ruthless Putin ally. Following years of their close relationship, Prighozhin led a 36-hour rebellion on June 23 attempting to topple Russia’s military leadership. His Wagner mercenary group (named after Hitler’s favourite composer) took over a military command HQ, several towns, slaughtered over a dozen Russian soldiers and steam rolled their tanks to within 125 miles of Moscow.
Putin had pledged to punish those behind the rebellion. In order to avoid any embarrassment and ensure that the ongoing war in Ukraine did not get jeopardised, Putin cut a quick deal with Prigozhin, allowing him to reside in neighbouring Belarus without facing any charges, reports said.
Since then, questions have been floated as to whether Putin would permit the man behind the uprising so easily off the hook as he is infamous and merciless when his authority is challenged and when he has to hold on to his powers.
The US media collated the names of prominent Putin critics who were done away within the last 20 years during the reign of the former KGB chief turned Prime Minister and President in Russia.
Prigozhin’s death is not the first instance of someone who died under mysterious or suspicious circumstances after rebelling against or criticising Putin.
Here’s a list:
2015: Boris Nemtsov, who led massive protests of the 2011 parliamentary election results and wrote reports about corruption.
2013: Boris Berezovsky, who accused the Kremlin of killing a former intelligence officer and whistleblower.
2009: Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, a human rights lawyer and a journalist critical of Putin, respectively.
2009: Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered evidence suggesting Russian police officials were behind a massive tax fraud case.
2009: Natalia Estemirova, a journalist investigating increasing abductions and murders in Chechnya.
2006: Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian reporter who accused Putin of turning the country into a police state.
2006: Alexander Litvinenko, a vocal critic of the Russian Federal Security Service after leaving the agency, which was run by Putin.
2003: Sergei Yushenkov, a former army colonel who was gathering evidence he believed proved Putin’s government was behind one of the apartment bombings in 1999.