OAN’s Roy Francis
9:10 AM – Friday, August 25, 2023
The Russian government has denied involvement in the crash of the plane on Wednesday, which allegedly killed Wagner Group leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
The plan, which was flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg, was carrying Prigozhin, six other high-ranking officials of the Wagner Group, as well as a crew of three personnel.
After the crash, authorities recovered 10 bodies, confirming that everyone onboard had been killed.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov spoke with the press over a conference call saying that the speculations that the Russian government is responsible for the crash are a “complete lie.”
“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,” Preskov said over the call. “Of course, in the West those speculations are put out under a certain angle, and all of it is a complete lie.”
Preskov stopped short of providing solid confirmation when asked if Prigozhin was among those on the plane who were killed.
“Right now all the necessary forensic analyses,” he said. “Including genetic testing, will be carried out. Once some kind of official conclusions are ready to be released, they will be released.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the situation for the first time on Thursday during the eulogy, expressing his sympathy and condolences while also addressing the accusations of his involvement in the crash.
“I knew Prigozhin for a very long time, since the early 1990s. He was a man with a complex destiny, and he made serious mistakes in life,” Putin said. “He achieved the results he needed both for himself and, when I asked him, for the common cause, as in these last months. He was a talented person, a talented businessman. He worked not only in our country and worked with results, but also abroad in Africa, in particular. He was involved in oil, gas, precious metals and stones there.”
The United States preliminary assessment had concluded that the plane was downed by an intentional explosion. One of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, discussed the assessment and said that the investigation had determined that Prigozhin was “very likely” targeted.
The official did not provide any specific detailed about the cause of the explosion. However, they said that the incident is in line with Putin’s “long history of trying to silence his critics.”
Similarly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also denied any involvement in the alleged death of the Wagner Group leader, laying the blame on Putin.
“We are not involved in this situation, that’s for sure,” Zelenskyy said on Thursday. “I think everyone is aware of who is involved.”
Putin confirmed on Thursday that the Russian government is conducting an investigation into the crash.
“As far as I know, it was only yesterday that he got back from Africa. He met some officials here. But what is absolutely clear — the head of the Investigative Committee reported to me this morning, they have already launched a preliminary investigation into this incident. And it will be carried out in full and to the end,” Putin said. “There is no doubt about that here. Let’s see what the investigators say in the near future. Tests — technical and genetic tests — are being carried out now. This takes some time.”
As of Friday, it has not been confirmed why several high-ranking members of the Wagner Group, who are known for taking extreme caution in their security details, were on the same flight.
The purpose of their trip to St. Petersburg also remains unknown.
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