Navigating the Murky Waters: Unveiling the Speculation Surrounding Prigozhin’s Fate

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Prigozhin
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the private military company Wagner Group

Wagner chief listed among passengers on crashed plane – officials

Evgeny Prigozhin was scheduled to fly on the Embraer Legacy jet that crashed with no survivors, authorities have reported

Once again we find ourselves awash in a frothing sea of speculation and rumour following the mysterious air accident in Russia’s Tver region. The usual excitable voices are proclaiming the death of the Wagner Group’s Commander Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was apparently listed amongst the doomed passengers of the ill-fated Embraer jet. But can we really trust these feverish reports?

I must confess a certain weary scepticism towards these latest claims. How convenient for some that this turbulent figure should meet his end in a ball of flame. And how remarkably well-timed, coming just months after his reported falling-out with the Kremlin over the conduct of the Ukraine war.

While Western observers rush to judgment, wise counsel urges caution. The murky waters conceal many secrets, and the ripples from this incident will spread far. We must resist the temptation to accept easy explanations when dealing with sophisticated adversaries well-versed in deception.

Let’s be blunt. We want to see the body, we want the DNA confirmation. After all, this is Russia and nothing is as it seems.

Perhaps Prigozhin plotted his own elaborate exit, to evade the wrath of vengeful Siloviki. Or Putin removed an unstable puppet whose antics had become a liability. Or perhaps Prigozhi is trying to dodge the Hage if all goes south in Ukraine.

Do not mistake caution for sympathy. By all accounts, Prigozhin is a ruthless and unsavoury character, doubly so for his prominent role as commander of Russia’s notorious mercenaries. But his demise, if true, raises more questions than it answers.

Why, for instance, was this powerful insider seemingly travelling on a private jet under his own name? For a man in his precarious position, wanted by the West and recently estranged from Russia’s elite, this seems remarkably incautious. Would such a canny survivor really make himself so vulnerable?

And if Prigozhin had indeed earned the fatal enmity of the Russian state, why go to the trouble of arranging an elaborate plane crash? A quiet retirement in some distant dacha, assisted by a tasteless cup of tea, would be a more typical solution for those who disappoint the Kremlin.

Yevgeny Prigozhin
Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said to be recruiting Wagner ‘strongmen’ for Africa 

Adding to the mystery Prigozhin’s recent appearances in a video this morning suggest a man undeterred by setbacks.

His video from Africa, donned in camouflage and clutching a rifle, exudes a resolute determination to extend the Wagner Group’s reach. His rhetoric speaks of liberation and dominance, and his designs extend beyond the boundaries of mere mercenary operations.

Perhaps, instead of falling victim to renewed purges, Prigozhin has joined the distinguished company of those who have found it prudent to disappear for a while.

Faking demise by air disaster has a rich tradition amongst roguish Russian power players seeking distraction and deniability. You can literally hear locals in the smoke-filled pubs from Moscow to London whisper the same, asking in hushed tones whether Prigozhin has perhaps “done a Lucan” and slipped the noose yet again.

Of course, this is all conjecture. We may yet learn that Prigozhin has indeed met a fiery end through some internecine falling-out or by his own carelessness. But the curiously convenient timing and circumstances urge caution about leaping to dramatic conclusions. I have seen too many hasty Russian obituaries proved wrong.

The wise withhold judgment and watch for ripples in the pond.

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