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MOSCOW, Aug. 24, 2023

From our Overseas Bureau

First public comments have been made by Russian President Vladimir Putin today on the plane-crash believed to have killed Yevgeny Prigozhin, saying the Wagner leader had made serious mistakes in life.

Vladimir Putin said he was sending condolences to Wagner Group employees on-board the plane that crashed on Wednesday.

The crash took place North-West of Moscow and killed all on board, Russia’s aviation agency said, including Prigozhin, chief of the mercenary group that gained prominence for its brutal methods worldwide and its battleground victories in the Ukraine War.

First of all, I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of all the victims, this is always a tragedy. Indeed, if they were there, it seems … preliminary information suggests that Wagner Group employees were also on board, Putin said during a meeting with the head of self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (D.P.R.) Denis Pushilin in the Kremlin.

Speaking about Prigozhin in the past tense, Putin said he’d known the Wagner chief for a very long time and that he was a talented man, a talented businessman. He was a man of difficult fate and he made serious mistakes in life and he achieved the results needed both for himself and when I asked him about it – for a common cause, as in these last months, the Russian president said.

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