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How Putin’s top ally killed Prigozhin: The inside story of Russia’s power struggle

The WSJ revealed how Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, orchestrated the assassination of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Group and Putin’s rival.
Nikolai Patrushev together with President Putin. Source: Skhemy

The assassination of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Group, was approved by Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The WSJ revealed in detail how Nikolai Patrushev organized the assassination of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the influential and ambitious leader of the Wagner mercenaries whose coup against Vladimir Putin failed in the summer of 2023.

The WSJ cited multiple sources, including former and current Russian officials, Wagner insiders, and Western intelligence agencies, who confirmed the details of the assassination and the role of Nikolai Patrushev in it.

According to the WSJ, Nikolai Patrushev orchestrated a complex plot to kill Yevgeny Prigozhin, involving a rogue FSB agent, a disgruntled Wagner operative, and a bomb planted on Prigozhin’s private jet.

With tens of thousands of troops and lucrative gold, timber, and diamond mining operations in Africa, Prigozhin ran a multibillion-dollar empire overseas, but in Russia and on the battlefield in Ukraine, his public confrontation with the top military leadership over arms and supplies put him on a collision course with the Kremlin.

When the conflict between Prigozhin and the Kremlin culminated in an open rebellion against the Russian military command in late June, with 25,000 soldiers and Wagner tanks marching on Moscow, Patrushev intervened, seeing an opportunity to remove Prigozhin for good.

Prigozhin’s failed mutiny: What made him back down?

In early August 2023, Patrushev ordered his assistant to start preparing an operation to eliminate Prigozhin, the former Russian intelligence officer told the WSJ. According to Western intelligence agencies, Vladimir Putin was shown the plans and did not object.

A few weeks later, after his tour of Africa, Prigozhin was waiting at the Moscow airport while security inspectors finished checking his private jet. According to Western intelligence officials, it was during this delay that a small bomb was placed under the wing of the plane, which exploded in midair on 28 August 2023, killing Prigozhin and nine others.

According to the WSJ, Prigozhin’s death has left a vacuum in Russia’s covert operations abroad and allowed Patrushev to consolidate his power and influence as Putin’s right-hand man.

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