A Russian political analyst has claimed warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin is alive after his body double was killed in last week’s plane crash – not the Wagner chief himself.
Prigozhin is ‘alive, well, and free’ in an unnamed country, according to Dr Valery Solovey, even as Russia stages his funeral which Vladimir Putin is refusing to attend.
The astonishing assertion holds that Prigozhin cheated an assassination bid sanctioned by Putin and drawn up by his security council.
Prigozhin is now plotting his revenge, says the political analyst, a former professor at Moscow’s prestigious Institute of International Relations [MGIMO], a training school for spies and diplomats.
Dr Solovey accuses the Russian authorities of lying over Prigozhin’s DNA being found at the crash site in Tver region, while being aware the bid to kill the Wagner supremo had failed because a body double – which the warlord was known to use – got on the plane in his place.
A Russian political analyst has claimed warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin (pictured) is alive after his body double was killed in last week’s plane crash – not the Wagner chief himself
This image circulating on Russian Telegram channels purports to show the fake passport of a Prigozhin body double
The site of the plane crash in Russia’s Tver region last Wednesday
Prigozhin is ‘alive, well, and free’ in an unnamed country, according to Putin critic Dr Valery Solovey, even as Russia stages his funeral which Vladimir Putin is refusing to attend
‘First, the plane in which Yevgeny Prigozhin was supposed to fly was downed by a Russian air defence system,’ he said, challenging US intelligence claims that the plane was destroyed by a blast on board.
‘There was no explosion on board. It was downed from the outside.’
The secret operation to carry out this strike ‘was developed in [Russia’s] Security Council, and was sanctioned personally by the Russian president [Vladimir Putin].’
The warlord is now ‘alive, well, and free’, Solovey claims.
‘Prigozhin himself was not on board. His double was flying instead of him. By the way, Vladimir Putin is perfectly aware of that.
‘If you believe official statements of the Russian authorities, then what can I say…?’
Dr Solovey said he would reveal Prigozhin’s supposed country of exile early next month but denied it was in Africa where the Wagner private army has multiple interests.
However, Prigozhin – whose funeral is expected imminently and which Putin is refusing to attend – aimed to show himself by the end of this year.
Putin’s spokesman said: ‘The presence of the President is not provided. We don’t have any specific information on funerals. Still, the decision on this matter is made by relatives and friends.’
Exiled Prigozhin was ‘preparing for revenge’, insisted Dr Solovey.
‘How did he end up alive while his close people died? This is the choice he [Prigozhin] was faced with.
‘I’m not talking about the moral side of this choice. God forbid any of us face such a choice.
‘He intends to take revenge for having been faced with such a choice. He intends to take revenge on people who were intending to destroy him, and destroyed people close to him.’
Among those who died were Wagner military commander Dmitry Utkin, 53, and flight attendant Kristina Raspopova, 39, who had revealed to her relatives both a delay in the flight and that the plane had undergone repairs before its doomed final journey.
Prigozhin has access to £1.6 billion in bitcoin, Solovey said – a fund he will use to strike back.
‘That is more than enough for revenge. As for ambition, energy, and courage, he has plenty of that.’
Prigozhin’s remains were positiviely identified in the wake of the plane crash according to Russian officials
A view shows a makeshift memorial for Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, and Dmitry Utkin, the group commander, in Moscow, Russia August 29, 2023
Prigozhin used wigs and fake beards for disguises in Africa and the Middle East as he furthered Putin’s interests and deployed Wagner forces
Dr Solovey has long claimed to have inside Kremlin knowledge and frequently claims that Putin is seriously ill, and also uses body doubles to mask his condition.
Pictures emerged in the wake of the June coup led by Prigozhin showing the warlord’s purported doubles.
One was pictured in a Russian passport with Prigozhin’s name. Prigozhin was also pictured in a passport with a fake name.
He used wigs and fake beards for disguises in Africa and the Middle East as he furthered Putin’s interests and deployed Wagner forces.
One disguise showed him as an Employee of the Ministry of Defence in Sudan, another as an assistant diplomat from Abu Dhabi.
In a third he was mocked up as a Senior Lieutenant from Benghazi in Libya.
The versatile Prigozhin – whose Wagner forces have been used in many countries – also posed as a colonel from Tripoli, a ‘merchant from Syria’, and a field commander named Mohammed.
But the Russian Investigative Committee insisted he was dead as proven by his DNA being found on a corpse at the air crash site.
Others have speculated on Prigozhin being still alive.
Political scientist Ekaterina Shulman said: ‘In order to hide forever, taking one of the many spare passports, a burned-out plane is also a good reason.’
And former Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak – known as Putin’s goddaughter – said: ‘My feeling is we are burying [Prigozhin] too early.’
A survey by Brief Telegram channel found 38 per cent believe Prigozhin is still alive.