The supposed wife of Wagner’s notorious warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin seen at his funeral on Tuesday was actually the spouse of his body double, it has been claimed.
A sad looking woman who was seen at the Porokhovskoye graveyard was earlier identified as the warlord’s reclusive wife Lyubov Prigozhina, 52.
But later Russian media outlets made the extraordinary claim that it was in fact Irina Krasavina, the spouse of his main body double Leonid Krasavin, who actually attended the St Petersburg necropolis.
A funeral was held yesterday for Prigozhin, shrouded in secrecy and under tight security a week after the Russian warlord was reportedly killed in a plane crash that the Kremlin said today could have been caused by ‘deliberate wrongdoing’.
Despite Russia officially declaring Prigozhin had died in the crash, speculation remains rife over who was behind it – and whether he was on the aircraft at all, with some suggesting the funeral and official statements are all part of an elaborate ruse.
A week after he was killed in a plane crash over Russia, a funeral was held yesterday for Wagner’s notorious chief Yevgeny Prigozhin – under tight security and secrecy
A woman attending Prigozhin’s funeral on Tuesday (circled) who was first identified as his widow Irina Krasavina has been claimed to actually be the wife of his body double
According to Proekt, an independent Russian news outlet, Leonid Krasavin (left) is at least one of Prigozhin’s known body doubles he used as a means of protection
Pictured: A passport bearing Prigozhin’s name but with a picture of Leonid Krasavin
Left: Irina Krasavina, wife of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s main body double Leonid Krasavin. Right: Lyubov Prigozhina, widow of Yevgeny Prigozhin
No body was displayed during the ceremony, and a ring of armed guards were stationed around the cemetery to prevent well wishers or supporters from getting close to the grave, which bore a religious ‘dead or alive’ message on its headstone.
Only a select few guest attended, with Prigozhin’s widow and daughter initially understood to be among them.
Today, however, suspicions of a cover up have been fuelled further with claims from the Telegram channel Baza – which has known ties to Russian security services – that the woman first said to be Prigozhin’s widow was actually the wife of his double.
Billionaire Progozhin was known to use body doubles, and famously had multiple disguises himself.
‘The wife of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s double visited his grave the day after the funeral,’ reported the Baza channel.
‘Journalists [initially] confused the wife of Prigozhin’s double [Irina Krasavina] with the real widow of the owner of Wagner PMC [Lyubov].’ She was evidently accompanied at the grave by Polina Prigozhina, 31, Prigozhin’s eldest daughter.
According to Proekt, an independent Russian news outlet, Leonid Krasavin is at least one of Prigozhin’s known body doubles he used as a means of protection.
This was established when three passports in Prigozhin’s name but bearing Krasavin’s photographs were found during searches of his home, which also uncovered pictures of Prigozhin wearing a variety of disguises.
Proekt has reported that Krasavin is a former convict from St Petersburg who changed his full name to become the Wagner leader’s namesake.
The surprise appearance of the Krasavin’s ‘wife’ comes as the Kremlin said ‘deliberate wrongdoing’ is among the possible causes of the plane crash.
Speaking to reporters during his daily conference call, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov noted that ‘different versions’ of what happened exist and ‘are being considered’, including ‘let’s put this way, deliberate wrongdoing’.
He urged reporters to wait until the probe by the Russian Investigative Committee is concluded, and said there cannot be an international investigation into the events.
The committee said last week it has opened a criminal case on charges of flight safety violations, a standard charge used in plane crash investigations in Russia when there is no immediate reason to suspect foul play.
Earlier today it was reported that Moscow is acting to cover-up the circumstances of the crash by refusing to probe it under international rules, with Brazil revealing Moscow is refusing to probe the crash under international rules.
Brazilian officials said Moscow had informed its aviation investigation authority that it would not investigate the crash of the Brazilian-made Embraer jet, which plummeted from the sky on August 23 en route to St Petersburg.
Speculation remains rife over whether Prigozhin was truly on the aircraft, with some suggesting the funeral and public statements are all part of an elaborate ruse involving a body double. Pictured: A man wearing a shirt with the logo of Wagner group stands next to the grave of Prigozhin at the Pokrovskoye cemetery in Saint Petersburg, Russia, August 30
A woman reporte dto be Yevgeny Prigozhin’s widow Lyubov Prigozhina (third from left) and his daughter Polina, (fourth from left) are seen leaving the cemetery in St Petersburg on Tuesday after attending a funeral service for the Wagner warlord. However, a claim has been made that it is not Prigozhina seen in this photo, but actually the wife of Prigozhin’s body double
In this image taken from video, smoke and flames rise from a crashed private jet – belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin – near the village of Kuzhenkino, Tver region, Russia, August 23
The Kremlin has denied it had any involvement in the crash which killed – according to official accounts – ten people. The dead included Prigozhin, two top lieutenants of his Wagner Group and four bodyguards.
But analysts say the suspicious crash was retribution meted out by Vladimir Putin.
The crash came two months to the day after Prigozhin and his mercenaries staged a brief mutiny against the Russian military that posed the biggest challenge to the Russian president’s rule since he rose to power in 1999.
For many, it was a surprise that the man known as ‘Putin’s Chef’ lasted as long as he did after humiliating the Russian tyrant so publicly. But others have suggested Prigozhin is not dead at all, and was not buried in the ceremony on Tuesday.
The Wagner warlord was buried at a cemetery held on the outskirts of his hometown of St Petersburg at around 1pm local time with just a small group in attendance.
Red, white and yellow flowers were laid on the grave while a wooden cross towered above, bearing a message written in Russian. ‘Mother says to Christ: Are you my son or my God? You’re nailed to the cross, how will I go home?’ it read.
‘How will I step on the threshold, not understanding, not deciding: Are you my son or God? That is, dead or alive.
‘He says in response: Dead or alive, no difference, woman. Son or God, I am yours,’
But extraordinary claims persist that Prigozhin had not boarded the plane and thus had cheated death in the crash.
Prigozhin is ‘alive, well, and free’ in an unnamed country, according to political analysts Dr Valery Solovey, a former professor at Moscow’s prestigious Institute of International Relations, a training school for spies and diplomats.
Dr Solovey claims that Prigozhin put his body double on the plane, and is now plotting his revenge against those that targeted him.
He also claims that the Russian authorities lied about finding his DNA on a corpse, and that Prigozhin is in hiding in an unnamed country.
‘First, the plane in which Prigozhin was supposed to fly was downed by a Russian air defence system,’ he said, challenging US intelligence claims that the plane was destroyed by a blast on board.
‘There was no explosion on board. It was downed from the outside.’
The secret operation to carry out this strike ‘was developed in [Russia’s] Security Council, and was sanctioned personally by the Russian president.’
The warlord is now ‘alive, well, and free’, Solovey claims.
‘Prigozhin himself was not on board. His double was flying instead of him. By the way, Vladimir Putin is perfectly aware of that.
‘If you believe official statements of the Russian authorities, then what can I say…?’
Dr Solovey said he would reveal Prigozhin’s supposed country of exile early next month but denied it was in Africa where Wagner has multiple interests.
Suspicions that Russia is not telling the full truth about Prigozhin’s fate were also raised by the huge security presence at the ceremony on Tuesday.
Scores of police and security personnel formed a ring around the cemetery.
People were banned from entering even through metal detectors hastily erected at the site and officers carried anti-drone guns.
Some commented that it was ‘the most protected cemetery in the world’. It was also noted that Prigozhin’s body was not seen at any point during the funeral.
Prigozhin was known to use an elaborate array of disguises (pictured), raising suspicions that there could be more than meets the eye to reports of his death last week
A view shows the grave of Wagner private mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who Russia says was killed in a private jet crash in the Tver region last week, at the Porokhovskoye cemetery in Saint Petersburg on August 30
Police guard at the entrance of the Porokhovskoye cemetery in St. Petersburg, Russia, August 29, where metal detectors were hastily erected
Heavy security is seen around the cemetery during the funeral ceremony of Yevgeny Prigozhin
Russian policemen scan the skies during the funeral of Wagner group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin on Porokhovskoye cemetery in St Petersburg, August 29
Meanwhile Brazil’s Center for Research and Prevention of Aeronautical Accidents (CENIPA), in the interests of improving aviation safety, had said it would join a Russian-led investigation if it were invited and the probe held under international rules.
Russia’s aviation authority was not obligated to work with the CENIPA, but some former investigators said it should, as the US and other Western governments suspect the Kremlin of being behind the crash of a plane that had a good safety record.
On Monday, a picture from the plane’s crash site showed all the soil has been mysteriously removed by bulldozers. The reason for this is not clear.
Prigozhin was publicly critical of the way Moscow was carrying out its invasion of Ukraine.
According to the Montreal-based United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the flight from Moscow with a destination of St Petersburg was domestic, so it is not subject to international rules known throughout the industry by their legal name ‘Annex 13.’
‘They are not obliged, only recommended to do that,’ CENIPA head Air Brigadier Marcelo Moreno said after the agency sent an email last week asking Russia whether it would open such a probe. ‘But if they say they’ll open the investigation and invite Brazil we will participate from afar.
The secrecy and confusion surrounding the decision, as well as the funeral of Prigozhin and his top lieutenants, reflected a dilemma faced by the Kremlin amid swirling speculation that the crash was likely a vendetta for his June 23-24 uprising.
While it tried to avoid any pomp-filled ceremony, the Kremlin could not afford to denigrate Prigozhin, who reportedly received Russia’s highest award for leading Wagner forces in Ukraine and was idolised by many of the country’s hawks.
Putin’s comments on Prigozhin’s death reflected that careful stand. He noted last week that Wagner leaders ‘made a significant contribution’ to the fighting in Ukraine and described Prigozhin as a ‘talented businessman’ and ‘a man of difficult fate’ who had ‘made serious mistakes in life’.
On Monday, a picture showed all the soil has been mysteriously removed by bulldozers at the plane’s main crash site. The reason for this is not clear
A view shows a portrait of Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin at a makeshift memorial in Moscow, Russia August 24, 2023
A young woman lights a candle as others stand at an informal street memorial with flowers and lit candles for Wagner Group’s members who were reportedly killed last week
Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin political analyst, noted that Prigozhin has become a legendary figure for his supporters who are increasingly critical of the authorities.
‘Prigozhin’s funeral raises an issue of communication between the bureaucratic Russian government system that doesn’t have much political potential and politically active patriotic segment of the Russian public,’ Mr Markov said.
The country’s top criminal investigation agency, the Investigative Committee, officially confirmed Prigozhin’s death on Sunday.
The committee did not say what might have caused Prigozhin’s business jet to plummet from the sky on August 23, minutes after taking off from Moscow for St Petersburg.
Just before the crash, Prigozhin had reportedly returned from a trip to Africa, where he sought to expand Wagner Group’s activities.
A preliminary US intelligence assessment concluded that an intentional explosion caused the plane to crash, and Western officials have pointed to a long list of Putin’s foes who have been assassinated. The Kremlin rejected Western allegations the president was behind the crash as an ‘absolute lie.’
Although both were from St Petersburg, Prigozhin and Putin were not known to be particularly close.
Prigozhin, an ex-convict who earned millions – and his nickname ‘Putin’s chef’ – from lucrative government catering contracts, served Kremlin political interests and helped expand Russia’s clout by sending his mercenaries to Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic and other countries.
Wagner, one of the most capable elements of Moscow’s forces, played a key role in Ukraine where it captured the Ukrainian eastern stronghold of Bakhmut in late May.
The crash came exactly two months after the brutal and profane mercenary boss launched a rebellion against the Russian military leadership.
Prigozhin ordered his mercenaries to take over the military headquarters in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don and then began a march on Moscow. They downed several military aircraft, killing more than a dozen pilots.
Putin had vowed to punish the participants but hours later struck a deal that saw Prigozhin ending the mutiny in exchange for amnesty and permission for him and his troops to move to Belarus.
The fate of Wagner is uncertain.
Russian National Guard (Rosgvardiya) servicemen stand guard at the Porokhovskoye cemetery where a funeral was held for Wagner private mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin
Putin said Wagner fighters could sign a contract with the Russian military, move to Belarus or retire from service. Several thousand went to Belarus, where they are in a camp south-east of the capital, Minsk.
Russian state television, which for decades has served as the main source of information for the vast majority of Russians, barely covered the funeral at all.
One major channel, Russia 1, dedicated less than one minute of air time to it in its evening news bulletin, only to say that the funeral ceremony took place ‘without outsiders and the press at the request of the family’ and that Prigozhin’s grave is right next to that of his father, who died in 1978.
Another popular station, Channel One, ignored it completely in its evening news.
I am Rakesh Sharma, I associated with Elite News as an Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, budget, hiring and policy making.