Dr Valery Solovey, a former professor at Moscow’s Institute of International Relations, claimed that Prigozhin cheated an assassination bid sanctioned by president Putin and is now plotting his revenge.
“First, the plane in which Yevgeny Prigozhin was supposed to fly was downed by a Russian air defence system,” Dr Solovey said.
“There was no explosion on board. It was downed from the outside.”
The secret operation to carry out this strike “was developed in [Russia’s] Security Council, and was sanctioned personally by the Russian president,” he claimed.
“Prigozhin himself was not on board. His double was flying instead of him. By the way, Vladimir Putin is perfectly aware of that.”
The Wagner chief is “alive, well, and free,” he said, and insisted Prigozhin is “preparing for revenge”.
“He intends to take revenge on people who were intending to destroy him, and destroyed people close to him,” said the former professor.
The Moscow-based political analyst also claimed Prigozhin has access to £1.6 billion in bitcoin which he will use to exact revenge.
Dr Solovey, who has long claimed to have inside Kremlin knowledge and frequently claims that Putin is seriously ill, and also uses body doubles to mask his condition, said he would reveal Prigozhin’s location next month, but insisted it is not Africa, where the Wagner private army is stationed.
He claimed Prigozhin aimed to show himself by the end of this year. No evidence was provided for his claims.
Dr Solovey’s claims follow confirmation by the Russian Investigative Committee that Prigozhin died in a plane crash near Moscow last week.
The committee said in a statement Sunday that after forensic testing, all 10 bodies recovered at the site of the crash were identified, and their identities “conform to the manifest”.
Russia’s civil aviation authority last week said Prigozhin, along with some of his top lieutenants, were on the list of those on board the plane that crashed on Wednesday.
Prigozhin’s private jet came down north-west of Moscow, killing all those on board. Video footage showed debris falling from the sky above Kuzhenkino in Russia, with pictures emerging of the wreckage. His right-hand man Dmitry Utkin was also on board the Embraer Legacy 600 jet, as well as five other passengers and three crew members.
His death came exactly two months after Prigozhin mounted a short-lived armed rebellion against Russia’s military leadership, posing the biggest challenge to president Putin‘s authority in his 23-year rule.
The Kremlin has denied speculation it was to blame for the crash, and said “deliberate wrongdoing” is among the possible causes of the plane crash.