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Tags: vladimir putin | yevgeny prigozhin | wagner group

Report: Putin Ally Behind Assassination of Wagner Boss

By    |   Friday, 22 December 2023 03:42 PM EST

The oldest ally and confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly was behind the assassination of Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary military organization the Wagner Group.

Nikolai Patrushev, a former Russian spy who has known Putin since their days in the KGB in the 1970s, was the driving force behind the plan to kill Prigozhin, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing Western intelligence officials and a former Russian intelligence officer.

Prigozhin, whose forces were helping Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was killed in August along with nine others when the private jet he was traveling on was downed by a small bomb placed under a wing, the Journal reported. The incident happened two months after Prigozhin led a rebellion that was widely seen as the first serious challenge to Putin’s authority.

Newsmax reached out to the Kremlin for comment. Reuters reported Friday that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had seen the story but would not comment on it, before adding: "Lately, unfortunately, the Wall Street Journal has been very fond of producing pulp fiction."

During the invasion of Ukraine, Prigozhin was a vocal critic on social media of Russia’s military leaders, the Journal reported, including Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Even though Patrushev began to warn Putin about Prigozhin during the summer of 2022, his warnings were ignored because of the Wagner Group’s successes on the battlefield.

But the tide began to turn in October 2022, when Prigozhin berated Putin during a phone call about a lack of supplies, the Journal reported, citing a former Russian intelligence officer who maintains ties to people close to Putin and Patrushev. The former agent said Patrushev heard Prigozhin scold Putin and would use the call as a reason why Putin should distance himself from the warlord.

Even though Prigozhin continued to rant publicly, his calls to the Kremlin went unanswered, the Journal reported. By early June, the Kremlin ordered Wagner’s fighters to register with Russia’s defense ministry, a plan that effectively dismantled the group as a fighting force in Ukraine.

On June 23, Prigozhin led a rebellion that would ultimately lead to his death. He took his 25,000 men and tanks from the battlefield in Ukraine and marched them toward the city of Rostov-on-Don to take the Russian armed forces’ southern military district headquarters. The plan was to confront Gerasimov and Shoigu, who had been there for meetings but escaped before Prigozhin arrived, the Journal reported.

Prigozhin sent another column of tanks and soldiers toward Moscow. Prigozhin was persuaded to stand down by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who invited Prigozhin’s soldiers to decamp to Belarus and Prigozhin a chance to retain control of his overseas empire, which included lucrative gold, timber, and diamond operations in Africa.

Once the rebellion ended, the Kremlin did little to limit Prigozhin’s activities, the Journal reported, even though few in Moscow believed he would get away scot-free. In August, Patrushev gave orders to his assistant to shape an operation to kill Prigozhin, the Journal reported, citing the former Russian intelligence officer. Putin was shown the plans and did not object.

Several weeks later, following a tour through Africa, Prigozhin was waiting at a Moscow airport while safety inspectors finished a check on his plane. It was during this delay that a small bomb was placed under a wing, the Journal reported, citing Western intelligence officials.

The jet departed after 5 p.m. local time and reached an altitude of 28,000 feet. But the aircraft swiftly lost altitude and crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino. Witness videos showed that after an explosion, a jet with a detached wing fell from the sky, the Journal reported.

The Kremlin has denied involvement in Prigozhin’s death, and Putin suggested a hand grenade had detonated onboard.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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The oldest ally and confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly was behind the assassination of Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary military organization the Wagner Group. Nikolai Patrushev, a former Russian spy who has known Putin since their days in the...
vladimir putin, yevgeny prigozhin, wagner group
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2023-42-22
Friday, 22 December 2023 03:42 PM
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