Mourners hailed Yevgeny Prigozhin as a Russian hero on the 40th anniversary of the death of the Wagner Group mercenary boss. Photo/Moscow Times
MOSCOW – Dozens of mourners hailed Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in a mysterious plane crash 40 days ago, as a patriotic hero Russia.
They see the rebellious Wagner Group mercenary boss as a figure who speaks truth to power.
The Embraer private jet Prigozhin was traveling on from Moscow to St Petersburg crashed north of Moscow, killing all 10 people on board on August 23. Those killed were Prigozhin, two other important Wagner figures, four of Prigozhin’s bodyguards, and three crew members.
It remains unclear what caused the plane to crash two months after Prigozhin’s failed uprising.
The Kremlin said on August 30 that investigators were considering the possibility that the plane crashed intentionally.
At his grave in the former imperial capital of St Petersburg, his mother, Violetta, and son, Pavel, laid wreaths. Supporters waved black Wagner flags featuring a skull and the slogan “Blood, Honor, Fatherland, Courage”.
In Eastern Orthodoxy, it is believed that the soul makes its final journey to heaven or hell on the 40th day after death.
At memorials in Moscow and other Russian cities, dozens of Wagner mercenaries and ordinary Russians paid tribute, although there was no major outpouring of grief. However, Russian state television was silent.
“He could be criticized for certain events, but he is a patriot who defends the interests of the homeland on various continents,” recruitment agency Wagner said in a statement on Telegram, as quoted by Reuters, Monday (2/10/2023).