Yesterday, in a private ceremony in his hometown of Saint Petersburg, the remains of Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in a plane crash two months after staging a brief mutiny, were laid to rest.
According to AFP, his company claimed a private ceremony was held for the warlord “in a closed setting,” leading many to believe he was buried at the Porokhovskoye cemetery under heavy guard.
Although our photographer could only peek around the perimeter of the cordoned-off cemetery, he caught sight of what appeared to be Prigozhin’s fresh grave, marked by a wooden cross.
Mourners left a framed line from Joseph Brodsky’s “Nature Morte” (which translates to “dead or alive?”) at the gravesite.
A private ceremony was held for Prigozhin, who was a Hero of Russia, Russia’s highest honour, according to a statement released by his press service. The cemetery is located on the northeastern outskirts of Saint Petersburg.
The farewell for Yevgeny Viktorovich was a private affair. His company announced that the Porokhovskoye cemetery would be open to the public for final farewells.
There was a lot of secrecy surrounding the ceremony, and Ukrainian officials used that to suggest the Kremlin was afraid of protests.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a political adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote on the messaging app Telegram, “The secret funeral of Wagner ex-chief Prigozhin as an absolute symbol of Putin’s genuine fear.”
Prigozhin appears to have helped lead Moscow’s assaults for cities and towns in eastern Ukraine and to have challenged Moscow’s leadership, both of which appear to have come to an end with his funeral.
Hidden from Public View
It was the final act in a covert operation to have him eliminated, political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya wrote at Prigozhin’s funeral.
Everything was done in secret and with deceptive methods, all under the watchful eye of the security agencies.
The Russian government has announced that Prigozhin and eight other people perished in a private plane crash last week.
Two months after Prigozhin ordered his troops to topple Russia’s military leadership, the most spectacular challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s authority since he came to power in 2000 occurred when a plane crashed in the Tver region.
Prigozhin’s plane was shot out of the sky, and many experts in the military believe it was done on purpose, either by a missile or a bomb.
The Kremlin has denied claims that it was responsible for the crash as retaliation for Wagner’s planned June attack on Moscow.
Political observers, however, claimed that Prigozhin had become a major liability for the Kremlin in light of the upcoming Russian presidential election.
Officials in Russia are looking into possible air traffic violations as a cause of the crash, but they have been tight-lipped so far.
Concerning Final Concerns
Putin accused Prigozhin of treason after the mutiny, but after the crash he said that he had known Prigozhin since the early 1990s and that he was a man who “achieved results” despite his mistakes.
Putin’s comments failed to quell the growing controversy surrounding Prigozhin’s death, and impromptu memorials to the Wagner chief began cropping up in cities across Russia.
Putin will not be attending Prigozhin’s funeral, the Kremlin announced yesterday.
The President’s attendance “is not envisaged,” Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told reporters.
Due to the regular army’s apparent weakness and the huge losses that have been reported by Western sources, the Wagner group had assumed the most dangerous frontline duties during Putin’s offensive in Ukraine.
Prigozhin, who was stocky and bald, was often photographed with mercenaries who claimed to be on the front lines, in contrast to the generals of Russia who have been accused of avoiding combat.
Prigozhin publicly attacked the Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, while recruiting new members in Russian prisons.
The precise size of Prigozhin’s fortune, which is said to have been amassed through state contracts, is unknown.