(Reuters) – A newly released video of Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin purports to show him in Africa only days before his death, addressing speculation about his wellbeing and possible threats to his security.
“For those who are discussing whether I’m alive or not, how I’m doing – right now it’s the weekend, second half of August 2023, I’m in Africa,” Prigozhin says in the short video published by the Grey Zone Telegram channel which is linked to his Wagner Group.
“So for people who like to discuss wiping me out, or my private life, how much I earn or whatever else – everything’s ok,” he adds with a wave of his hand.
Reuters was not able to verify the location or the date of the video, which was filmed in a moving vehicle. Prigozhin’s camouflage clothing and hat, as well as the watch on his right hand, matched his appearance in a video released on Aug. 21, which he also claimed was filmed in Africa.
His “weekend” reference implied the latest clip must have been made on Aug. 19 or 20, only three or four days before he and other top Wagner figures and bodyguards were killed in a plane crash north of Moscow on Aug. 23.
His comments in the video reflected Prigozhin’s awareness of risks to his life.
His Wagner force fought for Russia in the Ukraine war but he was fiercely critical of the defence establishment and led a brief mutiny in late June.
The Kremlin has rejected as an “absolute lie” the suggestion that President Vladimir Putin had Prigozhin killed in revenge, but has said the investigation into the crash is examining the possibility of foul play.
Prigozhin was buried at the Porokhovskoye cemetery in his home town of St Petersburg on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Alex Richardson)