The Kremlin believes that there is a threat of a new military revolt in Russia following the liquidation of the founder of the private military company Wagner, Evgeny Prigozhin, reports the newspaper the Moscow Times, citing sources close to the administration of the Russian president and a government official who previously served in law enforcement agencies.
According to the newspaper's sources, the Russian special services are already working to prevent similar "performances" to what Wagner organized at the end of June. Tanks that approached Moscow within a distance of less than 200 km made an indelible impression on Vladimir Putin, who has been in power for over two decades. Prigozhin not only challenged the army command but also disobeyed the personal order of the president, which is why he was recognized as a threat to the regime, the newspaper writes.
According to the newspaper's sources, the Kremlin cannot maintain the private military company in its current state, and the group will be disbanded. "Many members of Wagner believe that the authorities may be behind Prigozhin's death. And the Kremlin cannot ignore such risks," said Oleg Ignatov, an analyst at the International Crisis Group.
He noted that after failures in Ukraine and the transition of the war to a protracted stage, Putin faced the problem of losing his image. "His image has faded and no longer meets Russia's demand for a strong and decisive leader who achieves goals quickly and with minimal costs and sacrifices. It has become evident that Putin is losing to charismatic figures like Prigozhin," said the expert.
The Moscow Times, however, reminds us that just two days after the elimination of Prigozhin, the President of Russia signed a decree demanding that the Wagner mercenaries swear allegiance to the Kremlin. According to political analyst Abbas Gallyamov, quoted by the newspaper, Putin considers the threat of a new rebellion or conspiracy to be quite realistic. This is evidenced by the fact that Putin decided to eliminate Prigozhin, despite the risk it posed to numerous projects. This indicates that Putin's priorities lie in preserving power rather than expanding externally.
On August 23, a private Embraer Legacy 600 aircraft, used by Prigozhin, was traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg. At around 6:20 pm local time, the aircraft crashed in the Tver region.
On August 27, the Investigative Committee of Russia announced that the identities of those killed in the plane crash had been established and correspond to the list declared on the flight manifest. However, Putin referred to Prigozhin as deceased only a day after the crash on August 24, stating, "I would like to note that these are people who have made a significant contribution to our common cause of fighting against the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine. We remember, we know, and we will not forget."
Today, the funeral of the Wagner PMC leaders and the aircraft crew members is taking place in St. Petersburg. The presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the farewell ceremony is not planned, according to the press secretary of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov.