This photograph shows a portrait of the late head of the Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin displayed at a makeshift memorial in Moscow on August 27, 2023. — AFP
  • Wagner chief died in plane crash in Russia last week. 
  • Kremlin dismissed speculations about involvement in killing.
  • Prigozhin had launched failed mutiny against President Putin.

A private ceremony was held to commemorate the death of Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in a private jet crash last week.

The circumstances of his death remain mysterious, but the Kremlin has dismissed speculation that it was orchestrated by the government.

The 62-year-old was the founder of the Wagner private fighting force, which has been accused of carrying out assassinations and other operations on behalf of the Russian government. He was also a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin said that Putin would not attend Yevgeny Prigozhin’s funeral, but there were no public announcements about when or where the funeral would be held.

Prigozhin’s death has raised questions about the future of the Wagner group. The group has been weakened by losses in Ukraine, and it is unclear who will succeed Prigozhin as its leader.

Some observers believe that the Kremlin may have orchestrated Prigozhin’s death in order to remove a liability. Prigozhin had become increasingly outspoken in recent months, and he had even ordered his troops to march on Moscow in June. This was seen as a direct challenge to Putin’s authority.

Others believe that Prigozhin’s death was an accident. The jet that he was travelling in crashed in bad weather, and there were no survivors.

Whatever the cause of Prigozhin’s death, his passing is a significant event. He was a powerful figure in Russian politics and business, and his death will have aftershocks for years to come.

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