Putin decrees that Wagner fighters to sign oath of allegiance

President Vladimir Putin has ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state after a deadly plane crash killed Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the private mercenary group.

Mr Putin signed the decree bringing in the change with immediate effect after the Kremlin described western suggestions that Mr Prigozhin had been killed on its orders as an “absolute lie”.

The Kremlin declined to definitively confirm his death, citing the need to wait for test results.

Russia’s aviation authority said the Wagner chief was on board a private jet which crashed on Wednesday evening northwest of Moscow with none of the 10 passengers surviving, and coming exactly two months after he led a failed mutiny against Russia’s army chiefs.

President Putin sent his condolences to the families of those killed in the crash, referring to Mr Prigozhin in the past tense.

He cited “preliminary information” as indicating that Mr Prigozhin, his former ally and long-term acquaintance, and his top Wagner associates had all been killed.

While praising the Wagner boss, whose fighters have been crucial to aspects of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine, Mr Putin, however, said he had made some “serious mistakes”.

The decree, published on the Kremlin website, obliges anyone carrying out work on behalf of the military or supporting what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine to swear a formal oath of allegiance to Russia.

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