The Kremlin announced Tuesday that Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin had been buried in a “closed format” private funeral and that all those “wishing to say goodbye can visit the Porokhovskoye cemetery.”
The funeral took place around 4pm local time, according to the Kremlin. The announcement came just hours after Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskovv said Russian President Vladimir Putin had no plans to attend Prigozhin’s funeral, but had not at the time offered any other details.
Prigozhin was on a private plane that crashed north of Moscow en route to St. Petersburg on August 23. This Sunday, Russian officials said DNA analysis confirmed Prigozhin was among the seven passengers and three crew killed in the crash.
It’s still unclear what caused the crash, though some residents of a nearby village have said they heard an explosion before seeing the jet plummet to the ground.
The Kremlin has pushed back on a preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment which concluded that the plane was downed by an intentional explosion. One Western official said the assessment determined that Prigozhin was “very likely” targeted and that the explosion was in line with Putin’s “long history of trying to silence his critics.”
Putin offered his condolences to the families of those who died, singling out Prigozhin, one day after the crash—three days before the DNA analysis came back.
“I knew Prigozhin for a long time, since the early 90s,” Putin said in his first public statement following the crash. “He had a difficult fate, he made serious mistakes in his life. And he achieved the necessary results both for himself and when I asked him to do so for the common goal, as happened in recent months.”
On Friday, June 23, Prigozhin led his Wagner PMC mercenaries on a brief uprising against Russian military brass, marching his columns into the Russian city of Rostov near Ukraine’s front lines. Prigozhin said his fighters “blockaded” the town “without firing a single shot.”
It ended the next day, after a deal was struck by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, which stipulated that Prigozhin’s mercenaries would receive immunity, and that charges brought against Prigozhin himself would be dropped, once he turned his columns away from their subsequent march toward Moscow. Before turning back, some 8,000 of Prigozhin’s mercenaries had come within 125 kilometers of the capital city.
Prigozhin, a former hot dog vendor, rose to power as “Putin’s Chef” for his close ties to Putin and his role as a caterer to the Kremlin. In 2014 he founded Wagner and deployed his mercenaries in support of Moscow’s allies in countries including Syria, Libya and the Central African Republic. The U.S. has sanctioned the mercenary organization and accused it of atrocities, which Prigozhin denied.
The Kremlin has not offered any other specific information about funeral plans for the crash victims, noting that arrangements were up to relatives.
But when asked if Putin would attend the funeral of Prigozhin, Peskov had told reporters early Tuesday, “The presence of the President is not envisaged.”