In a private ceremony held in St Petersburg, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was laid to rest, as confirmed by his press service. The funeral, conducted in his hometown, was described as being in “a closed format.” Those wishing to pay their respects have been directed to the city’s Porokhovskoye cemetery.
Russian authorities verified Prigozhin’s death after conducting a genetic analysis on 10 bodies recovered from a plane crash near Moscow on 23 August. The crash resulted in the death of all 10 passengers, including Dmitry Utkin, Prigozhin’s close associate.
While the Kremlin has refuted claims that it played a role in the crash, several Russia observers, both domestically and internationally, have labeled Prigozhin as a “dead man walking” since his failed armed uprising in June.
Details about Prigozhin’s funeral were shared by the Wagner press service in a brief statement on Telegram. Further specifics were not provided. However, Russia’s MSK1 website cited cemetery officials, stating that the funeral took place around 16:00 local time (13:00 GMT) on Tuesday, as per the wishes of Prigozhin’s family. The site also mentioned that Prigozhin was interred beside his father’s grave, with Wagner’s distinctive black-yellow-red flag visible at the burial site.
In a separate event, Valery Chekalov, Prigozhin’s top deputy who also perished in the plane crash, was buried at St Petersburg’s Severnoye cemetery on Tuesday. Chekalov, 47, is believed to have managed Prigozhin’s non-military business ventures, which, according to Western governments, funded the mercenary group.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed that Putin would not attend Prigozhin’s funeral. This comes despite the significant role Prigozhin’s mercenaries played in Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. After a day of silence post-crash, Putin conveyed his condolences to the victims’ families, acknowledging Prigozhin as a “talented person” who had made grave errors.
In a surprising turn of events in June, Prigozhin, previously a staunch Putin supporter, led a revolt against Russia’s top military generals. His mercenaries seized the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and were advancing towards Moscow before halting their mutiny roughly 200km from the capital. Putin labeled the insurrection as “treachery.” However, a subsequent agreement allowed Wagner fighters to either integrate into Russian army units or relocate to Belarus, an ally of Russia.
The plane crash has sparked intense speculation, with some suggesting the involvement of Russian security forces. US officials, as cited by CBS, believe an onboard explosion to be the most probable cause of the crash. Peskov has vehemently denied these allegations, dismissing them as “absolute lies.”