President Vladimir Putin has ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state after a deadly plane crash believed to have killed Yevgeny Prigozhin, the volatile chief of the mercenary group.
Putin signed the decree bringing in the change with immediate effect on Friday after the Kremlin said that Western suggestions that Prigozhin had been killed on its orders were an “absolute lie”. The Kremlin declined to definitively confirm his death, citing the need to wait for test results.
Russia’s aviation authority has said that Prigozhin was on board a private jet which crashed on Wednesday evening northwest of Moscow with no survivors exactly two months after he led a failed mutiny against army chiefs.
President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to the families of those killed in the crash on Thursday and spoke of Prigozhin in the past tense.
He cited “preliminary information” as indicating that Prigozhin and his top Wagner associates had all been killed and, while praising Prigozhin, said he had also made some “serious mistakes.”