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WSJ uncovers Putin's right-hand man role in Prigozhin's demise

WSJ uncovers Putin's right-hand man role in Prigozhin's demise Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev (Getty Images)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

The death of former Wagner PMC leader Yevgeny Prigozhin could have been a murder planned by the Kremlin. According to The Wall Street Journal, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev may have been involved in its organization.

The agency, citing representatives of Western intelligence services and a former Russian intelligence officer, notes that Patrushev began warning Russian dictator Vladimir Putin about Prigozhin's growing influence in the summer of 2022. At the time, Putin ignored the warning, in part because of the role of the Wagnerians in the war against Ukraine.

The former Russian intelligence officer claims that everything changed in October 2022. Then Prigozhin called Putin and allegedly complained rudely about the lack of shells. This conversation was overheard by Patrushev, who then convinced the dictator that Prigozhin had become dangerous and no longer respected the Kremlin's authority.

The WSJ states that by December 2022, it was clear that Patrushev had won. Putin ignored Prigozhin's public statements and calls.

According to the agency, when Prigozhin mutinied, Patrushev took the situation into his own hands. He defended the Kremlin and called officers loyal to Wagner to convince Prigozhin to stop. According to the WSJ, Prigozhin himself ignored the calls from the Kremlin.

Patrushev also called Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to find mediators. According to the newspaper's sources, Kazakhstan was an insurance policy if the Russian army failed to stop the rebellion in case of a worst-case scenario. Kazakhstan was expected to send its forces, but Tokayev refused.

According to a former Russian intelligence officer, in early August 2023, Patrushev ordered his assistant to begin preparing an operation to eliminate Prigozhin. Western intelligence officials claim that Putin did not object.

The WSJ notes that when Prigozhin's plane was being checked at the Moscow airport, a small bomb was placed under the wing. This was the cause of the crash. All 10 people on board, including Prigozhin and Wagner PMC commander Dmitry Utkin, were killed.

The Kremlin claims that the cause of the crash was allegedly a grenade. In October, Putin said that fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of the dead passengers.

Prigozhin's death

On August 23, a plane crashed in the Tver region of Russia. Later it became known that the accident occurred with a business jet. Russian aviation reported that among the passengers of the plane was the leader of the Wagnerites, Yevhen Prigozhin, commanders and fighters of his PMC.

Later, on August 27, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation officially confirmed that Prigozhin died in the plane crash.

The deceased Wagner leader was buried in secret at the Prokhorov Cemetery in St. Petersburg. The funeral allegedly took place in a closed format.