(UnitedVoice.com) – Russian President Vladimir Putin faced the first real test of his power in two decades in June. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, ordered his mercenaries to march toward Moscow to reportedly oust the head of the Russian military. The coup ended as quickly as it began, and Prigozhin was exiled to Belarus.
Two months later, the head of the mercenary group is allegedly dead. There are questions about whether the Russian government assassinated him. US President Joe Biden appeared to add fuel to that fire.
On August 23, news broke that a private jet carrying Prigozhin, Wagner Group commander Dmitry Utkin, and eight others crashed north of Moscow. Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations announced there were a total of 10 people on the plane (seven passengers and three crew members) when it went down. There weren’t any survivors.
The flight crashed during a journey from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. It went down in the Tver Region, near the village of Kuzhenkino.
Biden’s Comments On Crash
After the crash, Biden was briefed on the accident. Reporters caught the president while he was in Lake Tahoe on vacation and asked him whether he thought Putin was behind the crash. He responded that he didn’t know what happened but that he was “not surprised.” He went on to say that “not much happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind.” However, he reiterated that he didn’t really know much.
Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said that “no one should be surprised” if Prigozhin was killed.
Biden wasn’t the only person speculating that the Russian president might have had a hand in the Wagner chief’s death. Immediately after the crash, reports surfaced that a missile might have brought the plane down.
Russia Condemns Biden for Remarks
On August 25, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, reportedly said Biden’s remarks showed his disregard for diplomacy. He claimed the US president shouldn’t have been speaking “about such tragic events of this kind.”
While his allies defend him, Putin reportedly called Prigozhin’s family the day after the plane crash and called him a gifted businessman. He reportedly said the Wagner chief did do something for the country but also described him as someone who was flawed.
The Russian president said he’d known the Wagner chief since the early 1990s. “He was a man with a difficult fate” who also “made serious mistakes in life.”
Russian authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.
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