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Contract was put out on Yevgeny Prigozhin but it wasn’t Putin – former MI6 spy

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    A contract was out for the life of Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin but it wasn’t from Putin, a former MI6 spy has claimed.

    Former intelligence officer Christopher Steele explained he had become aware that a hit had been put out on the warlord, who recently staged a short-lived coup against the Russian Government.

    Reports tonight (August 23) have claimed that Prigozhin died in Russia when his plane came down near Moscow. Wagner-affiliated Grey Zone Telegram has confirmed Prigozhin is dead.

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    Following the coup, his forces were initially expelled to Belarus and Prigozhin was not heard from for a number of days afterwards.

    Speculation about his wellbeing was rife, but just two days ago a video which appeared to feature him in Africa was shared online.

    But now Mr Steele has claimed he was aware that a hit was out on his life from members of the Russian business community, rather than Putin.

    Speaking to Sky News, Mr Steele said: “We had heard some weeks ago from a source that a contract had been put out on Prigozhin in Russia by senior members of the business community."

    Competing claims have since emerged of a second plane owned by Wagner which has landed safely in Moscow.

    A still of the second flight via flight tracking software was shared by open source security Twitter account OSINTtechnical which said: “Prigozhin’s other Legacy 650, RA-02748, just landed in Moscow.”

    Sky News’s military expert Sean Bell said: said: "We sort of expected about three months for the dust to settle before Putin would deal with the problem that is Prigozhin, but it is actually two months later.

    "This might have been an engineered story for Prigozhin to slip quietly away and live in exile somewhere, under a wig and with a degree of privacy.

    "The harsh reality is the writing has been on the wall ever since Prigozhin launched his assault on Moscow a couple of months ago.

    "Clearly, it was an error of judgement… and it does seem his days were marked since that time.

    "There is no surprise there has been quite a public departure for him."

    Claims in both directions remain unconfirmed at the time of writing.

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