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Yevgeny Prigozhin’s funeral is expected to take place in St. Petersburg today The ceremony’s time and location have been classified, city official says
In St. Petersburg, preparations are underway for the funerals of Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and his close associate Dmitry Utkin. Both appear to have been killed in a fatal plane crash on August 23, when Prigozhin’s executive jet smashed into the ground in Russia’s Tver region while en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
At the Severnoye Cemetery, a church service for Valery Chekalov, a close associate of Prigozhin who died with him in the crash, has been completed. As the top executive in charge of Prigozhin’s companies, Chekalov oversaw both catering contracts with the Russian military and oil deals with Syria. His name figures on both Ukrainian and U.S. sanction lists.
The local media report that a man in civilian clothing is keeping those present from filming the service. There’s neither police nor any officials in attendance.
Prigozhin and Utkin are both going to be buried in St. Petersburg, the local publication Fontanka writes, but the exact time and location of the ceremonies are being kept under wraps. Neither the city administration nor the police seem to have any information about this. “Everything has been classified, and no one’s informing us. Those immediately involved had to sign non-disclosure agreements,” said a staff member at the St. Petersburg mayor’s office at the Smolny Institute.
According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the Putin administration doesn’t have this information, either. “These decisions are, after all, made by the family and loved ones,” he said, adding that he’s in no position to speak on their behalf. Vladimir Putin will not be attending the funeral, the press secretary clarified.
Because Prigozhin had a Hero of Russia title, he has to be buried with military honors, including a platoon of soldiers for escort, a ceremonial band, and a salute fired with blank cartridges.
Funeral preparations were noticed at three different cemeteries the day before. At the Serafimovskoye Cemetery, where high-ranking members of the Russian military and Vladimir Putin’s parents are buried, metal detectors were installed, possibly in preparation for a funeral. Police officers and people in camouflage were seen arriving at the Severnoye Cemetery. There was also activity at St. Petersburg’s Bogoslovskoye Cemetery.
Although people could enter the Serafimovskoye Cemetery freely, the police was keeping visitors from using their cameras, and patrols were constantly inspecting the grounds. A man with Wagner Group insignia arrived there around 10:30 a.m., spoke with the police, left, and later returned carrying flowers. Entrance to the cemetery was closed immediately afterward, Fontanka reports, based on information received from readers.
In the morning, a Mercedes that belongs to Prigozhin associate Alyona Mozhar was spotted at the Severnoye Cemetery. Around mid-day, people started gathering there too, joined by the National Guard troops who arrived on a dedicated bus. Shortly afterwards, Chekalov’s funeral service began there.
Vasily Vlasov, a deputy of Russia’s right-wing Liberal-Democratic Party (LDPR), was seen at the Serafimovskoye Cemetery.
What looked like a funeral procession was spotted by the Cadet Corps Manege building on the University Embankment. According to the Telegram channel VChk-OGPU, a funeral service for Prigozhin is taking place there.
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