Days after Wagner commander Yevgeny Prigozhin was confirmed dead in a plane crash, a video emerged on social media with claims that it showed Russian President Vladimir Putin attending his funeral. However, these claims are false; the footage dates back to 2013, and shows Putin at the funeral of his long-time judo trainer.
“Vladimir Putin pays his last respects to Yevgeny Prigozhin the Wagner Boss and then declines to get into his Limousine and walks on foot from the occasion (sic),” reads a message posted on X (formerly Twitter) on August 29, 2023.
The post has since gathered over 800 likes and more than 290 shares.
It includes a 59-second video showing Putin laying a bouquet of flowers on a casket and extending his condolences to seated mourners.
Later in the video, Putin is seen out in the street, surrounded by his security team. He walks toward a vehicle and one of the security officers opens the door, but instead of getting in, he takes off on foot.
The claim also appeared on Facebook.
Prigozhin was confirmed dead by Russian officials following a genetic analysis conducted on the bodies recovered from a plane crash near the village of Kuzhenkino in the Tver Region on August 23, 2023 (archived here).
Investigators stated that all 10 victims’ identities were confirmed, and they matched the flight’s passenger list.
Prigozhin, 62, was buried on August 29, 2023, at a cemetery on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg (archived here), his press service said.
However, the claims that the video shows Putin at the Wagner leader’s funeral are false.
AFP Fact Check traced the video to a TikTok account seen in the footage.
One of the people commenting on the TikTok video in Russian says that Putin was bidding goodbye to his coach on August 3, 2013.
Advanced searches using keywords such as “Putin’s coach burial” and “Putin burial in 2013” led to old versions of the same video that were posted online a decade ago, in August 2013, such as here on YouTube (archived here).
The footage was described by various Russian and international news outlets at the time as showing Putin bidding farewell to his long-time judo coach Anatoly Rakhlin, then choosing to walk alone after the ceremony (archived here).
According to media reports, after Putin emerged from the service for Rakhlin in his native Saint Petersburg, he told members of his security team that he wanted to walk alone (archived here).
The Kremlin had said Putin would not attend Prigozhin’s burial (archived here).
“The president’s presence is not envisaged,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on August 29, 2023.