A Russian political analyst has claimed that Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is “alive, well and free”, and that he is plotting his revenge.
Conspiracies that Prigozhin did not actually die earlier this month, and that his body double was killed instead, are spreading in Russia.
Dr Valery Solovey, a former professor at Moscow’s Institute of International Relations, claimed that Prigozhin cheated the assassination bid sanctioned by Vladimir Putin.
“First, the plane in which Yevgeny Prigozhin was supposed to fly was downed by a Russian air defence system,” Dr Solovey said.
“There was no explosion on board. It was downed from the outside.”
The operation to carry out this strike “was developed in [Russia’s] Security Council, and was sanctioned personally by the Russian president,” he said.
“Prigozhin himself was not on board. His double was flying instead of him. By the way, Vladimir Putin is perfectly aware of that.”
The Wagner chief is “alive, well, and free,” he said, and insisted Prigozhin is “preparing for revenge”.
“He intends to take revenge on people who were intending to destroy him, and destroyed people close to him.”
The political analyst said Prigozhin had access to £1.6bn worth of bitcoin and that he was already plotting his revenge.
Dr Solovey, has long claimed to have inside knowledge of the Kremlin. He has in the past claimed that Putin is seriously ill, and also uses body doubles to mask his condition.
He said he would reveal Prigozhin’s location next month, but said it is not Africa, where the Wagner private army is stationed.
He said Prigozhin aimed to show himself by the end of this year. No evidence was provided for the claims.
Meanwhile, a range of unverified pictures which people claim are of Prigozhin in disguise has also started circulating on the internet.
It comes after the Russian Investigative Committee said that Prigozhin died in a plane crash near Moscow last week.
The committee said in a statement on Sunday that all 10 bodies recovered at the site of the crash had been identified. Russia’s civil aviation authority had previously said Prigozhin, along with several of his top lieutenants, was on the list of passengers on the plane that crashed.
The private jet was downed north-west of Moscow, killing everybody on board. Video footage showed what appeared to be parts of the plane falling out of the sky in the same area.
Prigozhin’s apparent death happened two months after he mounted an armed rebellion against the Russian military. The Kremlin has denied it is to blame for the plane crash.