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Wagner chief Prigozhin's lingering popularity a challenge for Putin

By Robyn Dixon

27 Aug 2023 · 6 min read

informed Summary

  1. Wagner chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin died in a jet crash, sparking memorial events across Russia and occupied Ukraine, indicating his deep-rooted popularity. Despite the Kremlin's attempt to paint Prigozhin as a traitor, a significant section of Russia's military and hardline supporters view him as a hero, posing a challenge for Putin in managing potential backlash.

Russians mourning the death of Wagner chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin have set up makeshift memorials in nearly two dozen cities across Russia and occupied Ukraine in recent days, a sign of the commander's lingering popularity and potential challenge for President Vladimir Putin amid divisions within the elite and in the military over the conduct of the war.

Prigozhin and other top Wagner leaders were killed after his Embraer business jet crashed Wednesday evening northwest of Moscow, just two months after Putin branded him a traitor for leading a short-lived rebellion against Russia's military in June. Russia's Investigative Committee in a statement Sunday confirmed the death of the Prigozhin, and the other nine people listed on the flight manifest, after conducting DNA testing on the victims' bodies.

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