Russian authorities have been quietly removing memorials for former Wagner Group mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash last month, weeks after leading a short-lived rebellion against Vladamir Putin.
The Kremlin has kept Prigozhin’s death as low-key as possible after he died in the fiery crash on Aug. 23 — a tactic underlined by Putin’s absence from the Wagner chief’s funeral and the barring of media from his burial at the Porokhovskoye Cemetery in St. Petersburg on Aug. 29.
The funeral was “the culmination of a covert operation aimed at his elimination,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, adding that the operation was carried out under the oversight of security agencies and “shrouded in secrecy and involved deceptive tactics.”
Meanwhile, recruitment billboards for the Wagner Group began vanishing after the June rebellion fizzled out and public memorials for the dead have disappeared since Prigozhin was taken out.
Someone even reportedly stole a violin left at Prigozhin’s grave — a nod to the mercenary group’s namesake, German composer Richard Wagner — while another man tried, but failed, to take a sledgehammer also left at the burial site, which was another symbol of the group that bragged of using the tool to beat traitors to death.
Surveillance cameras were since mounted on a tree near the grave and a guard monitors the site around the clock.
An investigation announced into the plane crash that killed Prigozhin and nine others has yielded no findings yet and Moscow declined an offer from Brazil, where the Embraer business jet was built, to assist in the probe.
However, a preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment concluded an intentional explosion caused the crash and Western officials have pointed to a long list of Putin’s enemies who have been assassinated.
The Kremlin has responded to allegations Putin was behind the crash, calling them an “absolute lie.”
With Post Wires.
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