Putin says hand grenade brought down Prigozhin’s plane

October 6, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday claimed a hand grenade caused the plane crash that killed Wagner PMC mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. 

“Fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of those killed in the crash,” Putin told a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club think-tank in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

He added that there was “no external impact on the plane—this is already an established fact,” challenging Western reports that the plane was shot down. In Putin’s account, a grenade that was on board the plane detonated.

Prigozhin was killed in August when a private plane, on which he was a passenger, crashed outside Moscow.

Once referred to as as “Putin’s Chef” for his close ties to the Russian President and for his role as a caterer to the Kremlin, following public statements of frustration regarding the war in Ukraine and the treatment of his mercenaries, Prigozhin on June 23 led his Wagner forces 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.

Putin offered condolences for Prigozhin’s death but did not go to his funeral. The Kremlin has denied allegations of involvement in the deadly plane crash.

During Thursday’s announcement Putin did not elaborate on how grenades could detonate on board a plane but suggested Prigozhin may have been on drugs which might have been a factor. 

“Unfortunately, no examination was carried out to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs in the blood of the victims,” Putin said.

PHOTO: Prigozhin plane crash landing gear

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