The Kremlin dismissed rumors Friday that it ordered the, who reportedly died in an aviation incident after leading an uprising against Russia’s military leadership.
“There is a lot of speculation around the plane crash and the tragic death of the passengers, including Yevgeny Prigozhin,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a briefing.
“Of course, in the West, this speculation is being presented from a certain angle. All of this is an absolute lie,” Peskov said.
The crash on Wednesday occurred exactly two months after Prigozhin led aagainst Moscow’s top brass. The unrest was seen by observers as having been the biggest threat to President Vladimir Putin’s long rule.
After almost 24 hours of silence,offered his “sincere condolences to the families of all the victims.”
He described Prigozhin, once a Kremlin confident and Western sanctioned businessman, as a person who had “made serious mistakes in his life, but he achieved the right results.”
The 62-year-old was registered on the plane that was carrying nine others who are also presumed to have died. Prigozhin has yet to be formally identified as among the victims.
“As soon as the results are in, they’ll be published,” Peskov said.
Asked whether Putin would attend the funeral, the Kremlin’s spokesman said a lengthy investigation would need to be completed first.
“The president’s work schedule is quite busy at the moment,” Peskov said.
The U.S. intelligence community is still assessing what caused the plane crash, but there, according to the Pentagon.
“Our initial assessment is that it’s likely Prigozhin was killed,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters on Thursday. He said there is no information so far to corroborate press reporting that a surface-to-air missile in Russia brought down the plane.
Another possible cause of the crash U.S. officials are exploring is an explosion onboard the plane, like a bomb.
Prigozhin’ssince the rebellion attempt appeared just days ago, apparently from Africa, where he said that the Wagner group was making Africa “more free.”
Eleanor Watson contributed to this report.