“I knew Prigozhin for a very long time, since the early 90s,” said Putin, who referred to the Wagner chief in the past tense throughout his remarks at the Kremlin, where he was meeting with the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
“He was a man of difficult fate, and he made serious mistakes in life,” the president said, though he added that Prigozhin had “achieved the results needed” both for his own interests and “for a common cause” at Putin’s request.
“He was a talented man, a talented businessman. He worked not only in our country, but also abroad, in Africa,” the Russian president said.
Putin said the Wagner chief had, as far as he knew, recently returned from Africa before the crash Wednesday. The Wagner Group has had various engagements on the continent.
Putin said that, based on preliminary information, “Wagner Group employees were also on board” the plane when it went down. He said he sends his condolences to “the families of all the victims; this is always a tragedy.”
Wagner fighters have “made a significant contribution” to the war effort in Ukraine, Putin said.
He also said Russia’s Investigative Committee is probing the crash.
“There is no doubt here. Let’s see what the investigators say in the near future. And now examinations — technical examinations and genetic ones — are being carried out. This will take some time,” Putin added.