President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia claimed on Thursday that the warlord Yevgeny V. Prigozhin and his associates could have introduced down their non-public jet with hand grenades whereas probably underneath the affect of cocaine — a brand new narrative from the Kremlin concerning the August airplane crash extensively seen as an assassination carried out by the Russian authorities.
Mr. Putin made the assertion on the finish of an hourslong, televised question-and-answer session with worldwide overseas coverage specialists within the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. Mr. Putin stated that investigators had concluded there had been no “exterior affect” that precipitated the crash that killed Mr. Prigozhin, the founding father of the Wagner non-public navy firm, and 9 others.
However, he added, there was proof that hand grenades had been detonated on board.
“The pinnacle of the Investigative Committee reported to me simply the opposite day that fragments of hand grenades have been discovered within the our bodies of these killed within the airplane crash,” Mr. Putin stated.
Mr. Putin went on to counsel that Mr. Prigozhin and his associates could have been utilizing alcohol or medicine, portray an image of an intoxicated group of males who could have killed themselves with their very own weapons.
Mr. Prigozhin and his two prime deputies died within the Aug. 23 airplane crash, simply two months after the Wagner founder had led a dramatic, 24-hour insurrection towards Russia’s navy management.
“Sadly, no examination was carried out for the presence of alcohol or medicine within the blood of the victims,” Mr. Putin stated, including that Russian safety forces had discovered 5 kilograms of cocaine in Mr. Prigozhin’s places of work. “From my viewpoint, such an examination ought to have been finished.”
The claims are unlikely to carry the cloud of suspicion hanging over the Kremlin within the aftermath of the airplane crash, which American officers — and plenty of Russians — believe was an assassination ordered by Mr. Putin.
Mr. Putin broached the circumstances of Mr. Prigozhin’s dying with out being particularly requested about them, as a substitute elevating the problem on the finish of his response to a questioner who requested broadly about the way forward for non-public navy firms like Wagner.
Mr. Putin started by saying it was the Russian Protection Ministry that had introduced the extralegal mercenary pressure into the battle effort within the first place, in a fashion that he described as “clumsy.”
“It was brought on by the necessities of the present state of affairs on the battlefield, to place it bluntly,” Mr. Putin stated. “And when the Protection Ministry proposed that items from this firm take part in navy motion, I didn’t refuse.”