Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Thursday there was a pattern of “unclarified fatalities in Russia” that naturally led to suspecting the Kremlin of involvement in the death of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash.
Baerbock said: “It is no accident that the world immediately looks at the Kremlin when a disgraced former confidant of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin suddenly, literally falls from the sky two months after he attempted a mutiny,” reported German public state-owned international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
She added: “We know this pattern in Putin's Russia: deaths, dubious suicides, falls from windows, all which remain unclarified — that underlines a dictatorial power system that is built on violence.”
Prigozhin was declared dead in a plane crash on Wednesday by the Federal Agency for Air Transport of Russia. Telegram channel affiliated with Wagner, Grey Zone, reported that he died in the crash of a plane that was “shot down” in the sky over the Tver region by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Analysts told Al Arabiya English that the prevailing theory is that Prigozhin’s crash was deliberate, and even should it be chalked up to be an accident, it will still be perceived as an assassination attempt, most likely devised by Putin.
Prigozhin’s mutiny two months ago had a resounding impact within Russia and internationally as well. The general consensus amongst international politicians and analysts is that the mutiny had weakened Putin and raised questions about his ruling with an iron fist at a critical time when his forces confront an intense counter-offensive in Ukraine.
Ivan Fomin, Democracy Fellow with the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) told Al Arabiya English: “It is likely that the plane crash is a result of an assassination attempt orchestrated by Putin. This is precisely what one would expect, especially given the Russian leader's particular sensitivity to disloyalty. In fact, it would be more surprising if Prigozhin, after his mutiny, had been allowed to live.”