Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Thursday that it was not an “external” attack that caused the plane carrying Wagner’s warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin to crash in August, but hand grenades. inside the plane.
Speaking at the Valdai Forum in Sochi, Putin said that “the chairman of the Investigative Committee just announced a few days ago that fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of the victims. There was no external influence on the plane, that is an established fact.
Prigozhin, who led a failed uprising against the Kremlin, was among 10 people on the private plane that crashed in a field northwest of Moscow in August while en route to St. Petersburg . All passengers, including Prigozhin and his main aides, were killed.
The Russian leader, whose government has denied involvement in the crash, did not say how the grenades could have exploded on the plane, but said he believed investigators should have carried out drug tests. of drugs or alcohol on the bodies of the victims.
“I repeat, in my opinion, such an examination should have been carried out, but it was not done,” he said, also specifying that “10 billion cash and 5 kilos of cocaine” had already been discovered by Russian security forces in Wagner’s office. in St. Petersburg.
Putin said the chairman of the Investigative Committee said it was acceptable to “share this information publicly” because it was an “established fact.”
The accident came two months to the day after Prigozhin’s attempted mutiny against Russia’s military leadership, which posed the biggest challenge to Putin’s rule in decades.
In June, Prigozhin and his Wagner troops seized key military sites and marched toward Moscow, where the Kremlin had deployed heavily armed troops on the streets. But before they could clash, a deal was reached that ended the rebellion and sent Prigozhin and his fighters to neighboring Belarus.
Following the deadly crash, Russian officials said they were considering various scenarios surrounding the incident, including the possibility of a “deliberate atrocity,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry said in late August. Peskov.
However, US and Western intelligence officials told CNN at the time that they believed the accident was deliberate. US President Joe Biden even suggested that Putin could be involved. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but I’m not surprised,” he said in late August.
Peskov denied allegations that the Kremlin may have been involved in the plane’s disappearance, calling such speculation an “absolute lie.”