Russia: Footage allegedly shows crash site of jet carrying Prigozhin
Vladimir Putin had Yevgeny Prigozhin killed – and sooner or later a body will be produced to prove he is dead, a former CIA agent has said.
Robert Baer was speaking after the Russian President made his first public remarks since the plane on which Wagner Group founder was listed as a passenger crashed 300 miles north-west of Moscow.
And Mr Baer also said the speech had delivered a “not-so-subtle message” to any other future plotters, two months after Prigozhin spearheaded his notorious and doomed rebellion.
Mr Baer’s book, The Fourth Man, published in 2022, tells the story of a hunt for a KGB spy in the agency where he worked as a case officer for more than 20 years.
While there is no official confirmation so far, Mr Baer told Express.co.uk: “I do think he’s dead.
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“For the very good reason he committed an act of treason against the state. The doom was on him which I’m sure he knew.”
Dmitry Utkin, the former Russian army officer widely believed to be Wagner’s co-founder, was also listed as a passenger but Mr Baer suggested he was not a specific target, but “collateral”.
Referring to 62-year-old Prigozhin, he continued: “Don’t count on a trustworthy investigation, but I think we’ll see pictures of his body.
Mr Baer, who is also the author of a book on assassination, The Perfect Kill, was in little doubt Prigozhin’s death was precisely that.
Asked who was responsible, he referenced two individuals who were targeted in the UK: “Putin. Just as he signed off on [Sergei] Skripal and [Alexander] Litvinenko.
“This obviously was an emphatic act, a message to the military and anyone else thinking about challenging Putin.”
Mr Baer said the message had been reinforced by Putin’s televised remarks yesterday, during which he said Prigozhin was a “talented businessman” who had nevertheless made “mistakes”.
He explained: “It was a not-so subtle warning to any would-be coup plotters.”
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Mr Baer also said Prigozhin will have spent the last two months “waiting for the hammer to fall” after his aborted mutiny which saw his forces occupy Rostov-on-Don before heading to Moscow, during which they came to within 130 miles of the capital before the operation was called off.
Describing Prigozhin as being driven by “some fatalistic streak in Russians I’m unable to understand”, he added: “I wonder if on June 23 he thought he’d get more support in the military than he did.”
A preliminary US intelligence assessment has suggested Prigozhin was “very likely” the target of an intentional explosion which downed the plane on Wednesday, according to officials speaking on condition of anonymity.
However, Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder said press reports that a surface-to-air missile took down the plane were inaccurate.
He also declined to say whether the US suspected a bomb or believed the crash was an assassination.
US President Joe Biden, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, said: “I don’t know for a fact what happened.
“But I’m not surprised.
“There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind.”
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