Farewell in a very small circle: while Russia was still debating what honours Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was once given a "Hero of Russia" award, should receive, and whether Putin himself would attend his funeral, the Wagner boss killed in a mysterious plane crash has been buried in a small cemetery in St. Petersburg. Europe's press comments.
True-blue heroes get a different send-off
For journalist Stanislav Kucher, the simple funeral is proof that Prigozhin's death was ordered by Moscow. He writes on Facebook:
“If any of your 'loyal' acquaintances or relatives (and almost everyone has them) are spreading conspiracy theories about 'the hand of Western secret services' or 'the Ukrainian trail', just ask: Wouldn't a Russian hero killed by the enemy deserve a big farewell with the participation of the head of state and celebrities from politics, propaganda and culture, with a military escort or at least a guard of honour?”
Erasing Prigozhin from Russia's memory
The secrecy surrounding the funeral is proof that Putin is very much on edge, The Spectator concludes:
“Following the Wagner leader's aborted coup in June, any public grief or outpouring of support for him could be seen as a challenge to the president's authority. At the time of his death, Prigozhin was still popular and had amassed a loyal following amongst certain Russians - no doubt the Kremlin will have wanted to avoid giving these like-minded individuals an opportunity to gather. ... Prigozhin's clandestine burial suggests that the Russian authorities, and by extension the Kremlin, have been impatient to scrub him and the events of earlier this summer from Russia's memory.”
Who was really buried?
Aktuálně.cz has doubts as to whether it was really Prigozhin's body that was buried:
“The affair is officially closed. But can the Russian aviation accident investigation bureau and Russian experts be taken seriously? Can we believe that their findings confirm that Prigozhin really perished? We can't. The paradox is that even regarding something as basic as Prigozhin's death, we don't have 100 percent certainty because we can't be certain about anything the official Russian regime claims. This, among other things, is where Russia differs fundamentally from democratic systems. There is, de facto, no credible control.”
In a Telegram post picked up by Echo, political scientist Vladimir Pastukhov compares Prigozhin to another key figure in Russian history who was brutally murdered in 1916:
“Like Rasputin (and more recently like Kadyrov), he disrupted the state from within, he mocked it, he dismantled all bureaucratic procedures and mercilessly squeezed every spare kopek out of the treasury and into his bottomless pocket. ... The death of Prigozhin, like the death of Rasputin, will herald the death of the regime. People like Prigozhin kept Putin's galley afloat for twenty years. They were its oarsmen, but now the regime is starting to throw them overboard. The galley may be cleaner and roomier this way, but it won't be able to stay afloat for long without them.”
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