A makeshift Wagner memorial near the Kremlin walls in Moscow grew bigger on Saturday as Russians kept bringing flowers in memory of the PMC Wagner founders, Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin, presumably killed in a plane crash on Wednesday.
There has been no definitive confirmation of the death of Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group and a self-declared enemy of the army’s leadership over what he argued was its incompetent prosecution of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, although Russian President Vladimir Putin paid tribute to him on Thursday and spoke about Prigozhin in the past tense, sending his condolences to the loved ones of those killed on board.
He cited “preliminary information” as indicating that Prigozhin and his top Wagner associates had all been killed and, while praising Prigozhin, said he had also made some “serious mistakes.”
After the deadly plane crash Vladimir Putin has ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state.
Putin signed the decree bringing in the change with immediate effect on Friday after the Kremlin said that Western suggestions that Prigozhin had been killed on its orders were an “absolute lie.”