‘If Yevgeny Prigozhin is not dead — it’ll be hoax of the century’, says expert

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    The death of Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin will send Russia “into meltdown” and be "hoax of the century" if not true, a leading military expert has claimed.

    Prigzohin was on-board a plane that was seen hurtling out of the sky in a ball of flames, and has been confirmed as dead by several Russian news outlets.

    All 10 people on the plane including three crew members were killed, Russia’s emergency ministry said, according to state newswire RIA Novosti, although only eight bodies have been found so far.

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    It has been claimed that the plane, registered to Prigozhin – the former chef of Russian President Vladimir Putin – was shot down by Russian air defence, but this has not been confirmed.

    However, speaking exclusively to the Daily Star, international war expert Professor Anthony Glees said: “If Prigozhin is dead, then once again, Russia will truly find itself in meltdown.

    “If he's not dead, it will be the hoax of the century and so I think we can assume he is dead.

    “I think we can be in no doubt tonight that the most likely killer is Putin, not least because the plane (clearly shot down) was flying from Moscow to St Petersburg, so hard for the Ukrainians to target.

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    “Some said that after the failed rebellion, Prigozhin was a 'dead man walking' but in a real sense Putin was also a 'dead man walking' as long as Prigozhin continued to exert huge influence.

    “I suspect Putin had intelligence that Prigozhin was planning another putsch against him.

    “We've been told that the two people Prigozhin wanted out – Sergei Shoigu Defence Minister and Valery Gerasimov Chief of the General Staff – were about to be pushed out and that 'General Armageddon' Sergei Surovikin, in charge of the Ukrainian war, had also 'gone on a short holiday'.

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    “These are signs that Prigozhin's influence was massive and Putin's on the wane – so Putin hits back.”

    He added the apparent killing of Prigozhin is a “sign of terminal weakness” for Putin.

    And Dr Yuri Felshtinsky, author of Blowing up Russia, concurred.

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    He said: “Prigozhin had become an embarrassment, not least because The Wagner Group was due to be labelled a terrorist organisation in a few weeks' time.

    “It confirms that Prigozhin was not powerful in his own right. It is still, however, unclear whether Putin's position has improved. Weakness is not Russians like in their leaders.”

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