October 6, 2023 – Russia-Ukraine news

Russian investigators inspect a part of a crashed private jet near the village of Kuzhenkino, Tver region, Russia, on August 24. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

There is not yet a final report from investigators on the cause of the plane crash that killed Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in August, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

“This was not the final report,” Peskov told journalists during a news briefing Friday, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments Thursday suggesting it was not an “external” attack that brought down Prigozhin’s plane, but hand grenades within the aircraft.

“The president said that this report has yet to be finalized,” Peskov said.

The spokesperson declined to provide any details of what happened on the day the crash took place, and added that journalists can expect an official message from the Russian investigative committee when the full probe has been completed. 

What Putin said: Speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club forum in Sochi, Putin said Thursday that the “chairman of the investigative committee just reported a few days ago that the fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of the victims.”

“There was no external influence on the plane, it is an established fact,” the Russian leader claimed.

Putin added that the investigation into the crash of the plane carrying Prigozhin is still ongoing and that no examination was carried out to establish the presence of alcohol or drugs in the system of the victims who were on board the plane.

“In my opinion, such an examination should have been carried out, but it wasn’t,” he said.

Some background: Prigozhin, who led a failed uprising against the Kremlin, was among 10 people on board a private plane that crashed in a field northwest of Moscow in August while en route to St. Petersburg. All on board, including Prigozhin and his top aides, were killed.

There is no concrete evidence that points to Kremlin involvement in Prigozhin’s death and, officially, the cause of the crash is unknown. Russia has denied any involvement in downing the plane.

However, Ukrainian officials and US President Joe Biden have suggested Putin may have been behind the crash. Speculation about Prigozhin’s eventual fate began soon after his short-lived mutiny, and he joined a long line of Putin antagonists who met an early death.

CNN’s Mariya Knight and Tara John contributed reporting to this post.

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