Putin loses last levers of influence after Prigozhin's death - Russian oppositionist Ponomarev
Russian opposition activist Ilya Ponomarev believes that Shoigu was involved in Prigozhin's death
He said this on Espreso TV.
"Putin has already lost his last levers of influence on the situation. He is already sitting in a car that is headed for the abyss, and he cannot do anything about it. What happened to Prigozhin is another illustration of the fact that people around him can do anything. And this is a danger for Putin, because the next steps will be taken by the FSB and people from his security environment. But Putin is trying to make it look like he controls everything, that he knew, did and managed everything," Ponomarev emphasized.
The politician is sure that Shoigu was involved in Prigozhin's death.
"It was Shoigu's revenge for what had happened before. There is some doubt that Putin was involved. Maybe he knew about it, maybe not. There is a criminal logic in their gang. No one took Shoigu seriously anymore, because Prigozhin was doing whatever he wanted. It was Shoigu who needed this. Who else but Shoigu could have shot down the plane with an air defense missile," Ponomarev added.
Details regarding Prigozhin’s plane crash
On August 23, a business jet belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin, an Embraer aircraft, crashed in Russia's Tver region, resulting in the confirmed deaths of 10 individuals. Among the passengers was Dmitry Utkin, a key figure in Wagner PMC. Multiple theories have emerged about the crash: 1) the plane might have been downed by an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system; 2) it could have been hit by air defense systems; 3) an explosion might have occurred onboard.
Subsequently, the Institute for the Study of War suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin might have ordered the assassination of Wagner PMC leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to reassert dominance and seek revenge.
One version from Russian media indicated that an explosive device was planted in the landing gear of the plane carrying Wagner PMC leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. This device would have detonated at a specific moment, leading to wing and stabilizer detachment.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized that Ukraine was not involved in the plane's downing and made light of the situation by joking that such "aircraft assistance" wasn't what Ukraine had asked for.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speculated that after Prigozhin's probable death, Wagner operatives might continue to destabilize Belarus' neighboring countries.
The US officials suggest that the aircraft, carrying passengers linked to Wagner PMC leadership, was likely shot down by a missile from Russian territory.
The Russian leader also reacted to Prigozhin's death, referring to the Wagner leader as a man with a difficult fate who achieved necessary results but also made significant mistakes.
ISW analysts believe that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's willingness to publicly kill Wagner's leadership is likely to prompt the PMC's Council of Commanders to refrain from publicly appointing successors to Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin.