#WSJ: Vladimir Putin ordered Nikolai Patrushev to kill Yevgeny Prigozhin
Russian president Vladimir Putin's right-hand man the country's Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev- ordered the assassination of Wagner mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported citing Western intelligence and a former Russian intelligence officer. The Wagner Group was a crucial part of the Russian army amid Ukraine war before increasing rhetoric between Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russia's defence minister which resulted in the former attempting a brief mutiny in Russia in June 2023 that shook Kremlin's foundation.
Yevgeny Prigozhin abruptly ended his so-called "march of justice" to Moscow after Belarus's Alexander Lukashenko brokered a deal to allow him and his Wagner forces to come to his country. Yevgeny Prigozhin and other top Wagner commanders were killed in August when his plane exploded.
Nikolai Patrushev had long seen Yevgeny Prigozhin as a threat, even before the rebellion as he did not approve of Wagner boss' open criticism of top Russian military brass and was concerned that he had gained too much power, the report claimed.
Nikolai Patrushev- who has served under Vladimir Putin since the beginning of his time as president and is the second-most powerful man in Russia- decided to punish Yevgeny Prigozhin after the mutiny, the report claimed.
Vladimir Putin said that Yevgeny Prigozhin had been killed shortly after the plane explosion, adding that "he made mistakes." The Russian leader also speculated that the explosion had been caused by the poor handling of grenades by those onboard. The WSG report denied this claim and reported that a small bomb had been attached under the wing of Yevgeny Prigozhin's plane while it waited on the tarmac at a Moscow airport which led to the explosion.