On March 10th, reports emerged from multiple sources claiming that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the alleged chief and financier of Russia’s notorious Wagner private military company, was presumed dead. The announcement led to a flurry of speculations and allegations surrounding the possible role of the Kremlin and its head, President Vladimir Putin.
Prigozhin is more than just a close associate of the Russian president; he is popularly known as ‘Putin’s chef’ due to his control over a major catering outfit, the Concord group, which frequently caters for Kremlin events. However, he gained prominence after being accused of funding the infamous Wagner Group–a private military contractor supposedly supplying mercenary forces to countries like Ukraine, Syria, and Libya, where Russia aims to maintain its geopolitical influence.
His death—irrespective of whether it’s true or false—has the potential to significantly affect Russia’s clandestine operations across various geopolitical hotspots. And, it has also led critics to suspect Putin’s involvement.
Allegations against Putin are no new matter. He has often been criticized for his tight grip over political dissidents, and a pattern of strange deaths surrounding individuals who pose threats to his regime suggests foul play. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was recently poisoned. In the past, other figures like political critic Boris Nemtsov and former spy Alexander Litvinenko suffered fatal consequences under mysterious circumstances, raising international suspicions against Putin’s regime.
Prigozhin’s death, given his central role in financing Russia’s shadow warfare and his personal ties with Putin, has expectedly caused critics to point fingers towards Putin, assuming his possible involvement in an attempt to eliminate potential threats or loose ends.
As of now, while the story is developing, the Kremlin refuses to comment, further fuelling the critics’ suspicion about Putin’s possible role. If confirmed, Prigozhin’s death could reveal the underbelly of political intrigue and power play in Russia’s highest echelons.
While there’s no concrete evidence directly linking Putin to Prigozhin’s presumed death, the incident points to an alarming trend in the Russian political scenario. It emphasizes how those involved in the nation’s murky political and military operations become dispensable once they’ve served their purpose or pose a threat to the regime.