Russians ridicule President Putin for his contentious comments on the Wagner plane crash, sparking controversy and skepticism in the blogosphere.
Kyiv, October 7, 2023 – Russian President Vladimir Putin has come under fire from Russian milbloggers following his recent comments regarding the fatal plane crash that claimed the life of Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in August. Putin’s statements, made during a Valdai Discussion Club forum in Sochi on October 5, 2023, have ignited a storm of controversy and skepticism within the Russian blogosphere.
During his speech, Putin suggested that cocaine and hand grenades were responsible for the plane crash, dismissing claims that the aircraft had been shot down on his orders. He emphatically stated that there was no external impact on the plane and criticized investigators for not conducting alcohol and drug tests on Prigozhin and the other crash victims. Additionally, he alleged that five kilograms of cocaine were discovered at Wagner’s offices after the group’s brief 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
These remarks have incited outrage among Russian milbloggers. The Grey Zone Telegram channel, in a post lauding Prigozhin as a “Hero of Great Russia,” derided Putin’s theory as “laughable and a farce.” Others accused Putin of basing his speech on “openly false facts” and suggested that it might be a result of an internal power struggle within the Russian elite.
Questions have also been raised about the feasibility of hand grenades being brought onto a plane. Some bloggers wondered why no legal action had been taken against the airport management or security service, considering that the plane was departing from a civilian airfield.
The Institute for the Study of War observed that Putin’s attempts to discredit Prigozhin had backfired, with some segments of the Russian information space rallying to preserve Prigozhin’s reputation. This suggests that the Kremlin perceives an ongoing threat from Prigozhin’s statements and stance on the war.
In a curious twist, one milblogger concluded his post with the remark, “Even the dead Prigozhin is feared in the Kremlin.”
During the same event, titled ‘Fair Multipolarity: How to Ensure Security and Development for Everyone,’ Putin reiterated his mission to create a “new world” and once again blamed the West for Russia’s decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. He accused the West of seeking global “hegemony” and stated that they always needed an enemy.
However, while Putin discussed his vision of a “new world,” a Russian Iskander missile struck a funeral in the Ukrainian village of Hroza, resulting in the tragic loss of 51 lives, including that of a six-year-old boy.