By Olaniyi Apanpa
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday paid tribute to his one-time ally and Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin who was killed in a plane crash Wednesday, calling the mercenary group chief “a person with a complicated fate,” multiple outlets reported.
In a televised address, Putin revealed he had known Prigozhin since the 1990s. While seemingly referencing his failed mutiny, the Russian Leader added that Prigozhin “made serious mistakes in life”
He said, “This was a person with a complicated fate, and he made serious mistakes in life but also sought to achieve the necessary results – both for himself and at a time when I asked him to, for the common cause, such as in these recent months
Putin acknowledged the role played by the dead Wagner soldiers in the Ukrainian war while also sending condolences to their families.
“I would like to note that these are people who have made a significant contribution to our common cause of fighting the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine
“We remember and know it, and we will not forget it,” he continued.
All 10 people on the plane including three crew and seven passengers died in the crash, according to officials cited by Russia’s state news agency Tass.
Putin confirmed preliminary investigation has been launched into the incidents
“But what is absolutely clear – the head of the Investigative Committee reported to me this morning, they have already launched a preliminary investigation into this incident. And it will be carried out in full and to the end. There is no doubt about that here. Let’s see what the investigators say in the near future. Tests — technical and genetic tests — are being carried out now. This takes some time,” he said.
Yevgeny Prigozhin had headed the mutiny in June, moving his troops from Ukraine, seizing the southern Russian city of Rostov on Don, and threatening to march on Moscow.
The move came after months of tension with Russian military commanders over the Ukraine conflict.
The stand-off was settled by a deal that allowed Wagner troops to move to Belarus or join the Russian army.
Since the mutiny, where he was described at the time by Putin as a “traitor”, Prigozhin was seen a handful of times.
He was last seen in a video on Tuesday that appeared to have been taken in Africa.