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‘Assassination’ of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin could plunge Russia into civil war, jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny warns


The apparent assassination of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin could plunge Russia into civil war, jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny warned yesterday.

He accused Vladimir Putin of ordering the murder of the mercenary group boss months after he led an aborted rebellion against the Kremlin.

The Ministry of Defence said there was ‘not yet definitive proof’ that Prigozhin was on the private jet that crashed after an explosion on board but it was ‘highly likely’.

It warned his death would have ‘a deeply destabilising effect’ on his mercenary group, which operates in hotspots around the world including Ukraine, Syria and several African countries.

Wagner soldiers have threatened to storm the Kremlin and exact revenge for the presumed death of their leader, his second-in-command Dmitry Utkin and several other key lieutenants.

Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny accused Vladimir Putin of ordering the murder of the mercenary group boss months after he led an aborted rebellion against the Kremlin

Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny accused Vladimir Putin of ordering the murder of the mercenary group boss months after he led an aborted rebellion against the Kremlin

Moscow has denied it was behind the plane crash and said allegations that it was involved were a ‘complete lie’.

Russian investigators say they have found the flight recorder from the Embraer Legacy jet, which plunged to the ground 33 minutes into its flight from Moscow on Wednesday, but have not yet confirmed the identities of the ten bodies pulled from the wreckage.

The US Department of Defence said its preliminary assessment suggested the crash was caused intentionally by an explosion on the plane. 

Some Wagner supporters have claimed a bomb was planted in a case of wine. Mr Navalny – who survived an assassination attempt in 2020 – accused the Russian president of ordering the explosion, which also killed three flight crew members.

In a message to his supporters, he described the crash as ‘a real terrorist act’ and said it would make Prigozhin a martyr for his supporters. ‘It is precisely from these ingredients that the dish called “civil war” is made,’ the jailed opposition leader added.

Mr Navalny collapsed on board a plane in Russia in 2020 after he was poisoned with a nerve agent.

He was later jailed on fraud charges, despite calls for his immediate release over claims that they were politically motivated.

Prigozhin’s supporters had urged him to challenge Putin for the presidency, prompting claims that the Russian leader ordered his assassination to eliminate him and destroy his mercenary group.

The Ministry of Defence said there was ¿not yet definitive proof¿ that Prigozhin was on the private jet that crashed after an explosion on board but it was ¿highly likely¿

The Ministry of Defence said there was ‘not yet definitive proof’ that Prigozhin was on the private jet that crashed after an explosion on board but it was ‘highly likely’

Alexei Navalny described the crash as ¿a real terrorist act¿ and said it would make Prigozhin a martyr for his supporters.

Alexei Navalny described the crash as ‘a real terrorist act’ and said it would make Prigozhin a martyr for his supporters.

Prigozhin¿s supporters had urged him to challenge Putin for the presidency, prompting claims that the Russian leader ordered his assassination to eliminate him

Prigozhin’s supporters had urged him to challenge Putin for the presidency, prompting claims that the Russian leader ordered his assassination to eliminate him

In Russia, the Kremlin announced that all paramilitary fighters would now be obliged to swear an oath to the Russian flag

In Russia, the Kremlin announced that all paramilitary fighters would now be obliged to swear an oath to the Russian flag

Prigozhin’s failed mutiny, when he ordered his troops to march on Moscow in June, was widely considered to have sealed his fate and his death came two months to the day after the aborted uprising.

The future of his Wagner Group remained unclear, but the Ministry of Defence said his presumed death left a ‘leadership vacuum’.

In an intelligence briefing, it added: ‘The demise of Prigozhin almost certainly would have a deeply destabilising effect on the Wagner Group.

‘His personal attributes of hyperactivity, exceptional audacity, a drive for results and extreme brutality permeated Wagner and are unlikely to be matched by any successor.’

In Russia, the Kremlin announced that all paramilitary fighters would now be obliged to swear an oath to the Russian flag.

They must pledge ‘loyalty to the Russian Federation… strictly follow their commanders’ and superiors’ orders, and conscientiously fulfil their obligations’, according to a new decree signed by Putin.



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