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Vladimir Putin did not attend a private funeral held in St Petersburg for the Russian warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin who died in a plane crash last week.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that the Russian president would not go to the ceremony commemorating the Wagner leader who launched a mutiny in June that represented the biggest challenge in decades to Putin’s rule.
“The president’s presence is not envisaged,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response to a reporter’s question.
Peskov added that the Kremlin would not be issuing any information about the funeral. “Anyway, it’s relatives and loved ones who make decisions on these matters. Here, we cannot say anything without them,” he said.
Pro-Wagner Telegram channels reported that just a few dozen people attended the burial — with no Wagner fighters in attendance.
Footage posted on social media and in local news sites showed wreaths and bouquets of red roses lying on a fresh grave with a plaque bearing Prigozhin’s name and the years 1961-2023. There was a framed photo of the late mercenary chief in his military garb and medals, along with a framed excerpt from the Joseph Brodsky poem “Still Life”.
Local media reports from Porokhovskoye showed armed security officials standing outside the cemetery entrance where barricades and metal detectors had been erected. Passers-by were not allowed to enter, the outlets reported.
The manner of the internment would indicate the fall from grace of a convicted thief who rose from hot dog seller to become the owner of one of Putin’s preferred St Petersburg restaurants and a Kremlin caterer with links to the upper echelons of power.
Prigozhin’s sprawling business interests would later expand to include Wagner, the country’s largest private military force, which carried out the will of the Moscow government on battlefields from Africa and Syria to Ukraine.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the private force has been credited with some of the more notable advances on the Ukrainian battlefield.
Yet Prigozhin openly fought with Russia’s top military brass over military strategy in the invasion — a power struggle that ultimately escalated to the warlord launching a failed mutiny against the Russian military leadership at the end of June.
Putin initially branded Prigozhin “a traitor” for the act; then consented to let Prigozhin leave for Belarus and then to travel freely between the two countries — until his private jet crashed last week.
Western officials have surmised that Prigozhin was killed in retaliation for the June mutiny. The Kremlin denies any involvement in his death.