The Kremlin has confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the funeral of former Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, with sources claiming that a sudden rise in the presence of security in Moscow could indict that the funeral is set to be held today.
Russian investigators have now claimed that Prigozhin and top members of his infamous Wagner group died in a plane crash, weeks after leading a two day failed mutiny against Russian military leaders.
The Kremlin has dismissed speculation of its involvement in the crash, amid suspicion among Russia’s elite that Prigozhin’s death was an assassination. U.S. intelligence suggests that the incident was caused by an onboard explosion.
“The president’s presence is not planned,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday. “We do not have any information about the funeral. After all, the decision on this matter is made by family and friends,” he said.
Meanwhile, law enforcement officers have been seen today guarding a St Petersburg cemetery, with security tight around the entrance to the Serafimovskoe cemetery this morning. Some people were pictured attempting to enter the graveyard with flowers.
The heightened security at the cemetery has led to speculation that Pirgozhin will be buried today, yet no official confirmation has been issued.
Ten people were killed in a private jet crash north of Moscow last week – with the Russian Civil Aviation Authority saying Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the passenger list.
Seven passengers and three staff were on board the Embraer aircraft, which was en route from Moscow to St Petersburg, Russian State-sponsored news agency TASS has reported.
Russian officials have since announced that DNA has proven Prigozhin is among the dead – though no proof has been made public.
The shocking news followed confirmation that Putin has sacked Sergei Surovikin, AKA “General Armageddon”, as head of the Russian air force.
Surovkin’s whereabouts are still unconfirmed, and he has not been sighted since the failed 23-24 June mutiny.
Once commander of Russia’s overall invasion of Ukraine before being replaced and put in charge of the air force, Surovikin has not been publicly fired but the news agency RIA cited an unnamed source stating the following:
“Ex-chief of the Russian Air and Space Forces Sergei Surovikin has now been relieved of his post, while Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov, head of the Main Staff of the Air Force, is temporarily acting as commander-in-chief of the Air Force”.
The Kremlin has neither confirmed nor denied the statement, but it is important to note that the RIA is controlled by the Russian state itself.