The Kremlin yesterday rejected rumours it had ordered the death of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, presumed to have died in a plane crash two months after leading a mutiny in Russia.
Speculation the Kremlin may have been involved has swirled since Wednesday, when a private jet reportedly carrying Prigozhin crashed between Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
The rumours have been voiced by Western countries, Kremlin critics and even suggested by some pro-Kremlin figures.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the incident as "tragic" to reporters yesterday and acknowledged public discourse around foul play and possible involvement of the authorities.
"Of course, in the West, this speculation is being presented from a certain angle. All of this is an absolute lie," Peskov said, urging patience and adding that ongoing probes would reveal facts around the fatal crash.
Russian officials have opened an investigation into air traffic violations but have so far not disclosed details of the probe or the incident.