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Putin Offers Explanation For Explosion That Caused Downing Of Prigozhin Plane

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an explanation as to why the plane carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group boss who led a coup against Moscow, crashed and killed everybody on board, Reuters reported on Thursday.

A jet carrying Prigozhin and nine other passengers abruptly dropped out of the sky and crashed near Moscow in August, sparking theories from intelligence communities as to whether it was shot down by ground-to-air missiles or compromised by a bomb on board. Putin, who has denied involvement in Prigozhin’s death, said that fragments of hand grenades were found in the wreckage, suggesting they had been detonated mid-flight, according to Reuters.

“Fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of those killed in the crash,” Putin said during a meeting in Sochi. “There was no external impact on the plane – this is already an established fact.”

Putin offered few other details as to how the grenades might have been detonated, according to Reuters. He mentioned that investigators should have performed alcohol and drug tests on the dead passengers during the autopsy process.

“In my opinion, such an examination should have been carried out but it was not,” Putin reportedly said.

Putin also said that investigators raided Wagner Group’s offices and found roughly 10 billion roubles ($100 million USD) and 11 pounds of cocaine, Reuters reported.

Prigozhin led the Wagner Group in a coup against Moscow in late June out of anger at Kremlin leadership’s handling of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Wagner agreed to end the coup after Putin offered to grant amnesty to Prigozhin and his troops amnesty.

After he died, Putin said that Prigozhin was a “talented person” he had known for decades, but had made “serious mistakes.” Speculation exists as to whether Putin was behind the plane crash, as the Kremlin has a long list of political opponents who suffered mysterious deaths.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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