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He was too dangerous: WSJ reveals who organized Prigozhin's elimination

Lilia RagutskaNews
Prigozhin's elimination was organized by Patrushev with Putin's consent

Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security and Defense Council of the Russian Federation and the right-hand man of Russian President Vladimir Putin was the one behind Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin's elimination. Even before Prigozhin's "march on Moscow," he had repeatedly warned the dictator. He also warned Putin of the growing military and political weight of this private army, and when Prigozhin started the mutiny, Putin finally heeded his warnings.

The plane with Prigozhin and his closest associates on board crashed on August 23, exactly two months after the start of the "march on Moscow": preparations for the elimination of the Wagner leader had been underway throughout this time. The Wall Street Journal reports this, citing sources in Western intelligence and the testimony of a former Russian intelligence officer.

Prigozhin's plane crashes in Tver region of Russia

The crash of Prigozhin's private jet, on board which he, the real commander of Wagner, Dmitry Utkin, five other members of Putin's entourage and three crew members were, occurred on August 23, 2023, two months after the start of the unfinished march of the Wagner mercenaries on Moscow.

Western intelligence officers, the newspaper writes, are sure that the disaster was not accidental, and that Prigozhin's murder was being prepared almost from the moment he began his "mutiny."

The initiator and organizer of this elimination was Putin's longtime ally Patrushev, who from 2022 until the start of Prigozhin's "campaign" unsuccessfully tried to convince the Russian dictator that Prigozhin posed a threat to the Kremlin regime. Thus, according to Patrushev, Prigozhin gained too much military and political influence through his PMC. However, Putin, who was in dire need of "successes" at the front (and they were provided at least to some extent only by the Wagner soldiers), ignored these warnings for a long time.

Everything changed, the newspaper writes, after Prigozhin began to allow himself to make critical statements, in particular, about the lack of supply of mercenaries. According to the WSJ, the turning point was a call from the Wagner leader to Putin, during which he allegedly demanded weapons from the Russian president in a rude manner. Later, it was Patrushev's reminder of that call that became the argument that convinced Putin of Prigozhin's danger.

Prigozhin's fate was sealed by his decision to launch an armed campaign in Russia. Patrushev saw this as a chance to finally get rid of the Wagner leader, so the countdown timer for Putin's cook was started.

According to the newspaper, Prigozhin himself was aware of the danger that hung over him. However, he adhered to the agreement he had made with the Kremlin through the mediation of the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. Meanwhile, every step of the PMC owner was closely monitored.

In early August, the newspaper writes, Patrushev summoned an assistant to his office and ordered him to start preparing for Prigozhin's liquidation. A little later, Putin was briefed on the plan, and he did not object to Prigozhin's physical elimination according to Patrushev's plan.

On the day of the plane crash, Prigozhin's private jet was somewhat delayed at the airport: the Wagner leader had to wait for security inspectors to complete the inspection of the plane. It was then, the newspaper writes, that a small bomb appeared under the wing of the business jet. At about 5:30 p.m., at an altitude of 6 km, it exploded, and residents of the Tver region filmed a plane with a torn-off wing falling from the sky at high speed.

Photos from the crash site of Prigozhin's plane

A few days after the crash, Russia reported that DNA tests had confirmed Prigozhin's death. Nine other people died along with him: six Wagner mercenaries, including their commander Dmitry Utkin, two pilots, and a flight attendant.

The WSJ article was published on December 22, and it received a great deal of publicity. The Kremlin also reacted to it, though in the usual "it wasn't me" manner.

"It's hardly worth commenting on such materials. Recently, unfortunately, the WSJ has been very fond of producing pulp fiction," Russian state media quoted Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov as saying.

Earlier, it became known that shortly before his death, Prigozhin changed the head of his security service. Vladimir Ryzhakov, who had held this position for many years, was replaced by his successor, Mikhail Vatanin. After the elimination of the Wagner leader, it is he who fully controls the heir to Putin's "cook," his son Pavel.

It was also reported that the extremely cautious Prigozhin was obsessed with the safety of his air travel. However, something changed before the crash.

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