VLADIMIR Putin – dubbed The Godfather – "lured Prigozhin to Russia for a mafia-style hit involving a bomb that was bolted to his jet's landing gear," claimed an intelligence expert.
The Wagner leader, along with 10 others are believed to be dead after his private plane was blasted 28,000ft out of the sky on Wednesday.
Early reports stated that the jet had been downed by a missile strike but now it seems more likely an explosion on board the Embraer Legacy 600 caused the catastrophic crash.
Professor Anthony Glees, an intelligence expert from the University of Buckingham, told The Sun Online that he believes the tyrant leader Vlad made a "deliberate attempt" to kill Prigozhin and his close team by sabotaging his business jet.
"My working theory now is that some kind of bomb was fixed to both of the two fuel tanks in the Embraer jet (it has two, one in each wing; it's a very safe plane), one on each side," he said.
He then went on to explain that this would have caused whichever tank was being used on the flight to fracture and ultimately the wing containing the tank to completely break off.
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"This is wholly consistent with what we know about the flight behaviour of the jet at the critical moments at 6:19pm local time," he added.
Flight tracking data from FlightRadar24 also suggests that there was likely at least one catastrophic midair event several minutes before Prigozhin's plane crashed.
The data shows that the aircraft experienced an unexpected drop in altitude at around 6:19pm local time but remained in the air for several more minutes as it travelled a further 30 miles.
The Embraer Legacy 600 then plummeted down from the sky according to the flight data and horror footage capturing the catastrophic crash and debris fields.
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Glees said the suspected bomb that caused the catastrophic explosion would have likely been placed by the GRU – Russian military intelligence officers.
The GRU was the same group that went to Salisbury to try to kill Russian spy Sergei Skripal in 2018 – and who successfully murdered Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
The strategic bomb placing theory, according to the expert, demonstrated that the "sadistic psychopath" Putin wanted Prigozhin and his team to suffer as the method would have caused "horrible deaths".
"The plane did not disintegrate immediately, these guys were left to fall to earth," he said.
"Cynical, smirking Putin is also a psycho. He will have said to himself 'Prigo wanted a plane ride, I'll give him one he won't ever forget, except that he will'".
Aviation experts have seemed to agree that the evidence so far seems to point to a small bomb, strategically placed to cause catastrophic damage – but not the sort of explosion you would expect if a relatively small plane was blown out of the sky by a missile.
The expert claimed that the bomb would have either been one typically fired from a Russian fighter jet, or from a surface-to-air missile system on the ground.
It comes as rumours suggest explosives were loaded onto the plane hidden inside an "expensive wine" crate and new details have also emerged about reported repairs and how a turbo-refrigerator “of unknown origin” was fitted into the plane at the last minute.
On Wednesday, leaked footage showed the Embraer Legacy 600 plane being shown to the “potential buyers” – just hours before it was destroyed.
This involved a security breach at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, according to VChK-OGPU Telegram channel which has links to law enforcement.
“To take them to a secure area, and then on board, the [potential] buyers were declared as passengers of the flight,” said the channel.
Although they were not passengers, they had access to the plane for around one hour from 9:30am to 10:30am on the day it crashed.
On board the Embraer Legacy 600 at the time of its destruction was Prigozhin, alongside his close team, second in command Dmitry Utkin, and five other top Wagner chiefs.
As the crew of ten travelled together, Glees believes that the oblivious Wagner chief must have felt "very secure" on the plane to take his best guys with him.
"One can only marvel at Prigozhin's utter stupidity in putting all his 'eggs' in one basket," said the expert.
The rebel warlord became the latest to join a staggering body count of at least 40 high-profile deaths linked to the bloodstained hand of ruthless Putin.
Dozens of high-profile figures have died since Putin launched his bloody war in Ukraine over 18 months ago – many killed in mysterious and sudden, such as "suicides" and falling from windows.
This gives Glees reason to believe that Putin was very likely behind the assassination as the intricate method used is "absolutely his style".
"Putin is not just a war criminal, he's a demented killer," he added.
"In theory, he could have used the surface-to-air missile system he has at his estate on Lake Valdai, very near the flight path of the jet, but this would have been detected and I think Putin wanted and wants to maintain an air mystery about this".
It comes as the shameless Russian president sent his condolences to Prigozhin's family yesterday after the fatal jet explosion.
He claimed Russia will look into what investigators say regarding the crash, but expertise on the incident will take time.
Putin had initially refused to comment on the crash, but the Russian leader then decided to pay tribute to his former chef.
"What concerns this air crash, first of all, I want to express sincere condolences to the families of all those who died. It is always a tragedy," Putin said in a televised address.
Glees said that Putin's TV appearance was an effort to come across as "the strong guy, praising Prigozhin whilst leaving it open as to whether he'd had him killed".
But while Putin rules the "mafia state" Russia as a mafia don, the expert believes that this show of strength is just that – a show.
"Putin did not dare to actually say 'I ordered this traitor to be killed'. Why not? Because he's still terrified of what the Wagner Group could do. They're not done yet, for sure," he warned.
"Putin reckons he's the Godfather, and so he is, just for now. But Godfathers get killed by other Godfathers. His time is limited and his position is not strong, it's weak."
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On Friday the Kremlin denied any involvement in the plane crash.
Speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a hit on Prigozhin is “an absolute lie,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Russian state media reported.
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