Russia A confidant of Putin orchestrated the attack that killed the head of the Wagner Group, according to The Wall Street Journal

The Kremlin on Friday accused The Wall Street Journal of publishing "fiction" after that outlet reported that the death of the head of the Wagner mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a plane crash was orchestrated by Russian security official Nikolai Patrushev

Russia A confidant of Putin orchestrated the attack that killed the head of the Wagner Group, according to The Wall Street Journal

The Kremlin on Friday accused The Wall Street Journal of publishing "fiction" after that outlet reported that the death of the head of the Wagner mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a plane crash was orchestrated by Russian security official Nikolai Patrushev. .

The WSJ reported that Prigozhin's private plane was shot down by a small bomb placed under a wing. He cites unnamed Western intelligence officials and a former Russian intelligence officer.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had seen the article but would not comment before adding: "Lately, unfortunately, the Wall Street Journal has been very fond of producing fiction."

Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group that fought for Russia in Ukraine, waged a long dispute with the Defense Ministry establishment that culminated in an open mutiny in late June. It ended quickly, but was interpreted as a serious challenge to President Vladimir Putin's control of power for almost a quarter of a century.

Prigozhin died in a plane crash exactly two months later. The Kremlin had previously rejected as an "outright lie" the suggestion that he was killed on the orders of the Russian president. Putin suggested in October that the crash was caused by the detonation of hand grenades inside the plane.

Nine other people died in the accident: two other leading figures of the Wagner militia, Prigozhin's four bodyguards and a crew of three.

Patrushev, 72, is a former head of the FSB security service who currently serves as secretary of Russia's Security Council and is considered one of the most influential hardliners among Putin's close advisers. The two have known each other since they worked together in the Soviet KGB in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, in the 1970s.