Why conspiracy theorists believe Yevgeny Prigozhin faked his own death

Recently released video of Russian mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin has fueled speculation among conspiracy theorists that the billionaire warlord is still alive and was not aboard a private plane that crashed north of Moscow after an apparent explosion last week.

Prigozhin, 62, was confirmed to be among the seven Wagner Group fighters and three crew members who died in the crash, Russian authorities claimed, citing DNA evidence.

Skeptics, however, pointed to a video released Thursday purporting to show the leader of a brief June riot against the Kremlin alive and well, which they say paints a picture of an assassination target who may have faked his own death along with his vast resources, penchant for using body doubles, secret funerals, and expertise in disinformation.

Moscow has denied involvement in the aviation disaster amid rampant speculation that President Vladimir Putin was behind the death of his former ally turned “traitor”, even as Russian investigators admitted for the first time on Wednesday that the accident could have been “deliberate.”

Prigozhin’s new video.

The Gray Zone Telegram channel, linked to the Wagner Group, published images on Thursday of the paramilitary leader boasting about having survived assassination attempts.

“For those who are discussing whether or not I am alive, how I am, now it is the weekend, the second half of August 2023, I am in Africa,” he said, dressed in a camouflage suit while riding in a vehicle.

“So for people who like to talk about my payoff or my private life or how much I make or anything else, it’s all good,” he added.

A recently released video of Yevgeny Prigozhin dismissing reports of his passing has reignited speculation that the warlord faked his own death.via REUTERS

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Prigozhin’s clothing matched his appearance in a recruiting video he posted two days before the plane crash, which he said was filmed in Africa.

That clip marked his first public speech since he negotiated a deal to abandon his troops’ march on Moscow to oust Russian defense officials in exchange for exile in Belarus.

His reference to “the weekend” suggests that the footage was filmed on August 19 or 20, and the Gray Zone had previously published photos of Prigozhin posing with a large group of young people in the Central African Republic “shortly before his departure to Russia.” “. ” days before the ill-fated flight to his hometown of St. Petersburg.

Double body theory

However, conspiracy theorists interpreted the footage as a sign that Prigozhin had faked his own death.

“His [body] Double flew in his place. By the way, Vladimir Putin is perfectly aware of this,” Dr. Valery Solovey, a former professor at the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations, said in a recent YouTube interview.

The analyst maintained that Prigozhin planned to retaliate “against the people who planned to destroy him” and claimed that Russia was lying about verifying his DNA remains.

“If you believe the official statements of the Russian authorities, what can I say?” Solovey joked.

Prigozhin had long had a propensity for using stuntmen and disguises, and fake passports bearing his photo had turned up during a search of his office, Ukrainska Pravda reported earlier this summer.

Prigozhin was seen taking selfies with locals in what is believed to be Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.Prigozhin was seen taking selfies with locals in what is believed to be Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, days before Russian authorities said he died in a plane crash. Wagner/Twitter Group

“Prigozhin knew President Vladimir Putin’s methods well enough to take precautions. Several people are known to have changed his name to Yevgeniy Prigozhin as part of the mercenary leader’s efforts to obfuscate his travels,” Russian analysts wrote in an essay for international affairs think tank Chatham House last week.

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“Don’t be surprised if he appears in a new video from Africa shortly,” said one of the trial’s authors, Keir Giles.

“This is a man who took his safety very seriously, even before he became a marked man marching on Moscow,” Giles added. an interview with Sky News.

Historical precedent

If, as skeptics claim, Prigozhin had faked his own death last week, it would not have been the first time he would have emerged unscathed after reports of his demise.

Four years ago, Russian outlet Readovka falsely said he had died in a plane crash in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and his death had been wrongly reported in other cases, according to The Washington Post.

Fake wife at secret funeral

As a highly decorated war hero, Priogzhin was entitled to a full military funeral attended by top Kremlin officials, but instead he was buried in a discreet memorial on Monday that was shrouded in secrecy by officials who apparently wanted to avoid a huge amount of support. for the warlord, who remains popular with Russian hawks.

framed photoA framed photograph of Prigozhin sits next to his grave at the Porokhovskoye cemetery in St Petersburg on Wednesday. REUTERS

After the funeral, Russian media fueled speculation that his reclusive wife, Lyubov Prigozhina, 52, did not attend the service and was impersonated by Irina Krasavina, the wife of Priogzhin’s top lookalike Leonid Krasavin, according to The Sun .

Cryptic Graveside Poem

The British tabloid also pointed to a report by Russian outlet Moskovskij Komsomolets highlighting the startling excerpt from a framed poem by Joseph Brodsky on Prigozhin’s grave.

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“How can I step on the threshold, without understanding, without deciding?

“Are you my son or God? That is, dead or alive?” Says the excerpt from the Soviet poet.

Brodsky, like Prigozhin, had been exiled from the country after clashing with its authoritarian leaders.

Background theory

The cabal had also pushed the theory that Priogzhin was on a second plane linked to the Wagner group that landed safely in St. Petersburg last Wednesday.

The last four digits of the crashed plane’s registration number were 2795, aligning it with Prigozhin’s own plane, which is registered as RA-02795.

Emergency specialists carry a body bag near the wreckage of the private plane linked to Wagner's mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin on August 24, 2023.Emergency specialists carry a body bag near the wreckage of the private plane linked to Wagner’s mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin on August 24, 2023.via REUTERS

However, a second aircraft, an Embraer ERJ-135BJ Legacy 650, landed at Ostafyevo airport at around the same time as the crash.

Disinformation expert

Prigozhin had been convicted in the Soviet Union of theft and fraud and was a master at creating disinformation, which would come in handy in the unlikely event that he did indeed fake his death last week.

He had admitted to founding the Internet Research Agency, which Washington, DC, sanctioned for meddling in the 2016 US presidential race.

“I react with pleasure,” Prigozhin said of the IRA in a February statement, according to CNN.

“I have never simply been the financier of the Internet Research Agency. I invented it, I created it, I managed it for a long time. It was founded to protect the Russian information space from rude and aggressive anti-Russian narrative propaganda coming from the West.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller reported that the agency was seeking to sow discord in the states through “information warfare” with the goal of getting Donald Trump elected.

With postal cables

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Source: vtt.edu.vn

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