Fury over Putin’s claim Prigozhin plane was blown up by mercenaries high on coke – as Wagner aides release AI audio of their former chief mocking Vlad
- Putin suggested the crash was caused by the accidental detonation of grenades
- Wagnerites dismissed it with an AI generated clip of Prigozhin mocking Putin
Vladimir Putin today faced a furious backlash from pro-war supporters in Russia after claiming Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and his associates were high on cocaine and killed themselves by detonating hand grenades aboard their jet.
The Russian leader claimed in Sochi that ‘fragments of hand grenades were discovered in the bodies of the deceased in the air crash’.
He attributed this finding to Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee – a Russian version of the FBI – who was his former university classmate, and is a close crony.
He also said five kilograms of cocaine had previously been found in Prigozhin’s possession, implying his one-time friend and others in the Wagner high command on board the aircraft were addicts.
But Putin’s cocaine-and-drugs explanation was met with incredulity and has only served to deepen the view Prigozhin – once close to the dictator – was assassinated in a state killing.
In response, Prigozhin’s loyal supporters produced an AI-generated video of their fallen leader posthumously mocking the Russian president.
‘Of course,’ said the dead warlord, ‘We just got high on cocaine, and started throwing grenades at each other on the plane. Of course.’
Vladimir Putin (pictured on Thursday at the Valdai forum in Sochi, Russia) suggested his nemesis Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plane was brought down by a hand grenade that exploded inside the aircraft while the Wagner chief and his fellow mercenaries were drunk or high on drugs
Putin has suggested the explosion that killed Prigozhin (pictured) and nine others was as a result of a hand grenade detonating inside the aircraft by accident
Aftermath of plane crash after the private jet of Yevgeny Prigozhin fell from the sky
Weeks after Prigozhin, 62, had led a revolt against the Kremlin, he was travelling by private jet from Moscow to St Petersburg on August 23rd when it burst into flames.
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The executive Embraer jet then plunged to earth, killing Prigozhin, his bodyguards and other Wagner commanders including Dmitry Utkin. Immediately, fingers were pointed at President Putin, who had fallen out spectacularly with Prigozhin over the war in Ukraine.
But in an apparent attempt to distance himself from responsibility, Putin suggested the explosion was as a result of a hand grenade detonating inside the aircraft by accident.
‘Fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of those killed in the crash,’ Putin told the Valdai forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. ‘There was no external impact on the plane – this is already an established fact.’
The despot said he thought it was wrong for crash investigators not to conduct alcohol and drug tests on the deceased when their bodies were recovered from the crash site.
‘Unfortunately, no examination was carried out for the presence of alcohol or drugs in the blood of the victims,’ he said. ‘In my view, this should have been carried out, but it wasn’t.’
In fact, the FSB security service had weeks ago handed back suspected cocaine ‘briquettes’ found on his premises.
They were returned because, when examined, they were found to be ‘simple washing powder’.
Wagner’s ‘intelligence service’ had used the fake drugs in an operation in Africa, it was claimed.
No other premises related to those on board have been searched for cocaine or grenades, it is understood.
Weeks after he had led a revolt against the Kremlin, Prigozhin was travelling by private jet from Moscow to St Peterburg on August 23rd when it burst into flames (pictured)
The executive Embraer jet then plunged to earth, killing Prigozhin, his bodyguards and other Wagner commanders. Pictured: – Russian investigators comb the scene of a jet crash near the village of Kuzhenkino on August 24 this year
Vladimir Putin has claimed fragments of hand grenades have been recovered from the wreckage of a jet crash which killed his nemesis Yevgeny Prigozhin (pictured in June this year)
Former Wagner commander Marat Gabidullin, who left the group in 2019, dismissed Putin’s claims.
‘I don’t believe this. I never noticed any signs that [Prigozhin or Utkin] used drugs. And neither of them drank,’ Gabidullin told The Times.
Since the conflict began, several opponents of Putin have met a grisly end.
Western intelligence officials also believe the explosion which damaged the plane in mid-flight was internal rather than external.
But, to date, only President Putin has suggested the crash was caused by the accidental detonation of grenades by one of the passengers or crew.
It has been claimed that explosives had been planted inside a case of wine that had been loaded onto the private jet – and that Putin was behind the attack. The Kremlin called allegations he was behind the crash as an ‘absolute lie.’
A Russian investigation was launched but no findings have been released yet. Moscow rejected an offer from Brazil, where the Embraer business jet was built, to join the inquiry.
Prigozhin’s rebellion in June marked the most serious challenge to Putin’s rule since he rose to power in 1999.
Prigozhin said it was intended to oust the Defence Ministry’s leadership that he blamed for mistakes in pressing the fighting in Ukraine.
His mercenaries took over Russia’s southern military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don and then rolled toward Moscow before abruptly halting the mutiny under a deal that offered them amnesty from prosecution.
Initially, the president’s response – expelling Prigozhin to neighbouring Belarus – appeared uncharacteristically meek, the sentence of a president whose powers were waning.
Then, exactly, two months later, Prigozhin’s jet was blown out of the sky.
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