Putin says 'high or drunk' Wagner boss Prigozhin was killed when a grenade exploded on plane

6 October 2023, 08:47

Putin said Prigozhin may have been high or drunk during crash
Putin said Prigozhin may have been high or drunk during crash. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed when a hand grenade went off on the plane he was flying in, Vladimir Putin has said.

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The Wagner Group mercenary chief, who had fallen out with Putin after a failed coup attempt, was killed in August when his plane crashed in Russia.

It is unclear why the plane crashed. Some have speculated that it was a missile launched from the ground, and others thought a bomb could have gone off on the plane.

Russian president Putin told a conference audience that "fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of those killed in the crash".

He added: "There was no external impact on the plane — this is already an established fact."

Read more: Wagner mercenary leader Prigozhin confirmed dead after genetic analysis, Russian investigators claim

Read more: Wagner mercenaries must swear allegiance to Russia as Putin signs decree forcing fighters to take vow

Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin
Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. Picture: Alamy

Putin said that Wagner mercenaries could have set off the grenade while under the influence of alcohol or cocaine.

"Unfortunately, no examination was carried out for the presence of alcohol or drugs in the blood of the victims," the president said.

"In my view, this should have been carried out, but it wasn’t."

Two other top Wagner figures, four Prigozhin bodyguards and three crew members were also killed when the Embraer Legacy 600 private jet crashed north of Moscow on August 23.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin. Picture: Alamy

The Kremlin had previously rejected suggestions that Putin ordered his death in revenge for the June revolt, claiming it to be an "absolute lie". The mutiny was the biggest challenge to Putin's rule since he rose to power in 1999.

A "farewell ceremony" was later held Prigozhin privately at a cemetery on the outskirts of his hometown in St Petersburg.

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"The farewell to Yevgeny Viktorovich took place in a closed format. Those who wish to say goodbye may visit Porokhovskoye cemetery," Prigozhin's press service said in a short post on Telegram on Tuesday, accompanied by a photo of the Russian mercenary.

Secrecy had surrounded the funeral arrangements. Putin - who initially stayed silent over Prigozhin's mysterious plane crash - did not attend the funeral.

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