RUSSIA, St Petersburg – The funeral of Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash last week, was held privately at a cemetery on the outskirts of his hometown St Petersburg, his press service said on Tuesday.
“The farewell to Yevgeny Viktorovich took place in a closed format. Those who wish to say goodbye may visit Porokhovskoye cemetery,” it said in a short post on Telegram, accompanied by a photo of Prigozhin.
Secrecy had surrounded the funeral arrangements for Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash on August 23, two months to the day since staging a mutiny in the biggest challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s rule since he rose to power in 1999.
The Kremlin has rejected as an “absolute lie” the suggestion that Putin ordered his death in revenge for the revolt. It said earlier on Tuesday that the president would not attend the funeral.
The private ceremony, if confirmed, was in stark contrast to Prigozhin’s aggressive, self-publicising style. A Russian news outlet, MSK1.RU, quoted cemetery staff as saying that was the family’s wish.
For the Kremlin, it meant that the event could not be turned into a large-scale public show of support for Prigozhin, a ruthless figure who was nevertheless admired by some in Russia for throwing his mercenary force into the fiercest battles of the war in Ukraine and speaking openly about the shortcomings of the Russian military and its leadership.
Two other top Wagner figures, four Prigozhin bodyguards and three crew members were also killed when his Embraer Legacy 600 private jet crashed north of Moscow.
Earlier on Tuesday, Valery Chekalov, the head of Wagner logistics, was buried at another St Petersburg cemetery.
The family of Chekalov was joined by dozens of people, some of whom Reuters identified as Wagner mercenaries and employees from Prigozhin’s business empire, at the Severnoye cemetery.