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Russia: Residents of city where Wagner's mutiny started honour memory of Prigozhin

A Russian serviceman pays tribute to top Wagner officials Yevgeny Prigozhin (L) and Dmitry Utkin, at a makeshift memorial in Rostov-on-Don, on Aug. 24, 2023.   -  
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Supporters of the chief of military company Wagner continued arriving at a makeshift memorial in the city where the Wagner mutiny started.

On Thursday (Aug. 24), Rostov-on-Don residents, in Russia's south-west, piled red and white flowers, along with company flags and candles.

62-year-old Prigozhin is presumed to have died in a plane crash on Wednesday (Aug. 23).

The passenger manifest included his name and that of his second-in-command, as well as Wagner's logistics chief.

The business jet en route from Moscow to St Petersburg crashed, killing all ten people on board, Russian emergency officials said.

An investigation is currently underway into what caused the crash, which came two months after Wagner's short-lived rebellion against the Russian military leadership.

In the days after the crash, people have been bringing flowers to makeshift memorials near Wagner offices in different cities, including Prigozhin's hometown of St. Petersburg, along with Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg media reported.

Speculations and theories

The circumstances of the crash, which claimed the lives of some of Prigozhin's close entourage, have prompted furious speculation about a possible assassination.

Among allegations that have surfaced is that of sources citing a preliminary U.S intelligence assessment alleging the plane was downed Wednesday by an intentional explosion.

One of the U.S. and Western officials who described the initial U.S. assessment said it determined that Prigozhin had "very likely" been targeted and that the explosion falls in line with Putin’s "long history of trying to silence his critics." The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment.

The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov flatly rejected the allegations on Friday (Aug. 25).

"Right now, of course, there are lots of speculations around this plane crash and the tragic deaths of the passengers of the plane, including Yevgeny Prigozhin," Peskov told reporters during a conference call. "Of course, in the West those speculations are put out under a certain angle, and all of it is a complete lie," 

Presidential eulogy

In his first public comments on the crash, Putin said the passengers had "made a significant contribution" to the fighting in Ukraine.

"We remember this, we know, and we will not forget," he said in a televised interview with the Russian-installed leader of Ukraine’s partially occupied Donetsk region, Denis Pushilin.

Putin said he had known Prigozhin since the early 1990s and described him as "a man of difficult fate" who had "made serious mistakes in life, and he achieved the results he needed — both for himself and, when I asked him about it, for the common cause, as in these last months. He was a talented man, a talented businessman."

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