Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plane was not downed by an “external impact” and claimed grenade fragments were found in the recovered bodies.
“The head of the Investigative Committee briefed me just the other day. Fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of those killed in the crash,” Putin said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
“There was no external impact on the plane, and this is an established fact, the result of an examination that was conducted by the Russian Investigative Committee,” he added.
When Prigozhin’s plane first crashed, there were rumors that it was downed by Russian air defenses. US officials made the claim to the media, but other US officials said they suspected an internal explosion that was caused by a bomb planted on the plane.
While Prigozhin’s death came about two months after his short-lived mutiny against the Russian military establishment, the Kremlin has insisted Putin was not involved, calling Western allegations “lies.” In his comments on Thursday, Putin suggested Prigozhin and the other Wagner members who died in the crash may have been on drugs.
“The investigation is ongoing, but, regrettably, no tests were carried out to determine whether alcohol or drugs were present in the blood of the deceased,” Putin said. He claimed five kilograms of cocaine was found by the Russian FSB in Prigozhin’s office in St. Petersburg. “In my opinion, a test of this kind should have been carried out, but it wasn’t,” Putin added.