Russian milbloggers have blasted President Putin over his recent comments suggesting cocaine and hand grenades were behind the fatal plane crash that killed Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in August.
Speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club on Thursday, Putin gave the first significant update on Russia's investigation into the death of Prigozhin, suggesting those aboard the plane were drunk and high and blew themselves up and it was definitely not shot down on his orders.
“There was no external impact on the plane,” he insisted.
Putin has criticized investigators for not conducting alcohol and drug tests on Prigozhin and the nine other victims of the crash. He also alleged that five kilograms of cocaine were found at the Wagner offices after the mercenary group's short-lived rebellion.
Putin claims Prigozhin’s plane crashed because the Wagner leadership got drunk and/or high, then set off hand grenades during the flight.— max seddon (@maxseddon) October 5, 2023
Seems legit, definitely no further questions about that incident, we can all move on pic.twitter.com/JeM8ljlibi
His comments caused outrage in the Russian milblogger community.
In a post which described Prigozhin as “Hero of Great Russia,” the popular Grey Zone Telegram channel said: “The story about self-detonation [of grenades] is laughable and a farce.”
Another milblogger said Putin’s entire speech was “based on openly false facts,” speculating the Russian president’s comments were the “result of an intra-elite struggle.”
They added: “[This struggle] is still being waged by elites who are against justice, against changing the lives of the people and the fair distribution of resources of the richest country in the world.”
They also questioned the idea that hand grenades could even be taken aboard a plane, saying: “They were flying away from a civilian airfield - why haven’t cases been brought against the airport management and the security service, or is it possible to bring grenades onto our planes?”
Another milblogger simply described Putin’s comments as “absolutely horrible.”
Remarking on the comments, the Institute for the Study of War said Putin’s attempts to denigrate Prigozhin have backfired, pushing “some elements of the Russian information space to attempt to preserve Prigozhin’s reputation and disprove Putin‘s implication that Prigozhin was to blame for the plane crash.”
It added: “However, the Kremlin’s apparent perceived need to continue to discuss Prigozhin’s death and denigrate him further is noteworthy regardless of any information space responses, indicating the Kremlin likely perceives some continuing threat from Prigozhin’s statements and stance on the war.”
This was echoed by one of the milbloggers, who concluded his post by saying: “Even the dead Prigozhin is feared in the Kremlin.”
At the event on Thursday, – which was titled ‘Fair Multipolarity: How to Ensure Security and Development for Everyone’ – Putin also claimed his mission was to create a “new world,” and once again blamed the West for his decision to launch an illegal and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“We are tasked, essentially, with building a new world,” Putin said, adding the West was aiming for global “hegemony.”
“The West always needs an enemy,” he added.
Putin didn't describe in detail how this “new world” would look, but as he was speaking a Russian Iskander missile struck a funeral in the Ukrainian village of Hroza, killing 51 people including a six-year-old boy.
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