The killing of Yevgeny Prigozhin in his plane crash last Wednesday has caused much concern for many within the Russian government as they have mainly discussed “his achievements during the war” in Ukraine.
The Kremlin has been accused of the assassination of the former Wagner group chief exactly two months after his failed mutiny against Vladimir Putin, which has left the Russian despot look weak.
Masha Borzunova, a Russian journalist specialising in state propaganda, told the Observer: “Russian propagandists are proving that Prigozhin’s death is beneficial to everyone except Putin.
“They’re discussing every possible version, except the most obvious one.”
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Borzunova added, “The fact that Prigozhin was called a ‘traitor’ after the uprising and that Putin promised him an inevitable punishment is hardly being discussed.
“Mainly, they’re discussing his achievements during the war. And how his death is not favourable for the Russian government.”
Opposition politician and art collector Marat Gelman who is also a former advisor to Putin warned Prigozhin’s profile could be elevated over the months to come as Ukraine are “making gains.”
Gelman also told the Observer, “There will be powers that mystify Priogzhin’s persona and present him as a martyr. Others will create stories that he is still alive.”
BBC’s Russia editor Steve Rosenberg told the Radio4’s Today programme, “If this was an act of revenge by the authorities, that sends a clear message to Prigozhin’s loyalists about what may happen to those perceived by the Kremlin as having betrayed it.
“But what if Prigozhin becomes a martyr? What if those who pledged loyalty to him call for their own acts of revenge?”
A Russian expert has warned that there is a “real possibility” that “civil war in Russia” could now break out following the Kremlin’s assassination of Prigozhin.
“It’s not just that you have mercenaries like the Wagner Group. There are all kinds of private armies operating in Russia.
“I was even reading how the Defence Minister is starting his own army, and you think about how Putin has been using Chechen forces.
“There’s lots of warlords about. This is a very scary situation.”
Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny has warned the assassination of Prigozhin could now see Russia enter into a “civil war,” and labelled the plane crash as “a real terrorist act.”
Navalny added, “It is precisely from these ingredients that the dish called ‘civil war’ is made.”
A defence industry analyst and former British officer Nichoas Drummond has warned that Putin is fuelling the potential for a “civil war” in Russia.
Drummond said, “In resorting to fratricide to retain his grip on power, Putin is sowing the seeds of his own downfall, fuelling the collapse of Russia, potentially leading to civil war, and perhaps even the fragmentation of Russia.”
“Few people will mourn the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, but his blatant, premeditated murder should remind us all of exactly what Vladimir Putin is: a ruthless, imperialist, ex-KGB thug,” he added.