The Kremlin said Wednesday that investigators were probing all possible scenarios surrounding the death last week of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash, including premeditated murder.
Prigozhin, 62, was buried on Tuesday in a private ceremony in his native Saint Petersburg, more than two months after he staged a short-lived mutiny that posed a serious challenge for the Kremlin.
Authorities said the Western-sanctioned businessman died when his private jet went down along with nine other people between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and opened an investigation.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday told reporters that officials probing the incident have not ruled out any cause for the crash including foul play.
“Obviously there are different versions, including the version — you know what we are talking about, let’s say a deliberate crime — and so on,” Peskov said.
He said the plane crash was being probed by Russia’s Investigative Committee and that there would be no international input on the probe.
The Kremlin has dismissed suggestions it orchestrated the crash in revenge for Wagner’s march on Moscow in June. Officials are investigating possible air traffic violations but have not disclosed details.
Russians paid their respects to Prigozhin on Wednesday after law enforcement lifted a cordon around the cemetery following his funeral the previous day.
Aigul, a 38-year-old woman who declined to give her last name, said Prigozhin, who held the Hero of Russia title, Moscow’s top honour, had defended his country.
“He was our protector,” she told AFP at the cemetery.
“And who else was he if the president awarded him with medals?
“I didn’t know him personally but I believe that president didn’t make a mistake by decorating him.”
Marina, 51, who also withheld her last name, praised the warlord as well.
“I respected him. I appreciated what he did. I loved his company which worked responsibly.”