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Moscow Times: Kremlin ordered Prigozhin funeral to be held behind closed doors

by Martin Fornusek August 30, 2023 6:39 PM 2 min read
Police officers stand by the grave of Wagner private mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a private jet crash in the Tver Oblast last week, after his funeral at the Porokhovskoye cemetery in Saint Petersburg on August 29, 2023. (Photo credit: OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images)
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The funeral of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group founder who died in a plane crash last week, was closed to the public eye on the orders of the Kremlin, the Moscow Times reported on Aug. 30, citing two unnamed Russian officials.

The oligarch who launched a rebellion against the Russian government two months ago was buried in St. Petersburg during a private ceremony on Aug. 29, without the attendance of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The task was to make sure that when the coffin with Prigozhin's body was being lowered to the grave, there would be no mass gatherings of citizens, mercenaries, and sympathizers around, as well as no videos and photos on social networks from the cemetery," one of the sources told the Moscow Times.

The officials questioned by the outlet connected the decision to the fact that Prigozhin aroused emotions among the Russian people and came to be regarded as a folk hero.

"Do we need heroes that march on Moscow? No," one of the sources commented.

A further possible motivation for a closed-door ceremony was the continuing grudge among the Russian leadership toward Prigozhin, the Moscow Times said, referencing one of the officials.

The decision on the private ceremony was reportedly taken after several discussions by high-ranking Kremlin officials and officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Following mounting tensions between Prigozhin and Russia's Defense Ministry, the Wagner Group launched a short-lived rebellion against the Kremlin in June, taking the city of Rostov and marching toward Moscow before abruptly ending the insurrection less than 24 hours after it began.

Prigozhin was allowed to walk free following an undisclosed deal allegedly brokered by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

On Aug. 23, an Embraer Legacy jet carrying the mercenary boss and other key figures of the Wagner Group crashed in Russia's Tver Oblast, causing the death of all 10 people on board.

While the reasons for the crash of Prigozhin's aircraft remain unclear, U.S. officials named a bomb onboard or "some other form of sabotage" as a likely cause of the incident. Russia has rejected an offer by Brazil to assist with the investigation of the plane's crash.

White House on Prigozhin: Kremlin has ‘long history of killing its opponents’
White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre implied during a press briefing on Aug. 29 that the Kremlin was behind the death of Wagner Group’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, but stopped short of saying so explicitly.
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