ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — President Vladimir Putin is not planning to attend the funeral for Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Kremlin said, following reports that the mercenary chief who challenged the Russian leader's authority would be buried Tuesday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov wouldn't say where or when the chief of the Wagner Group military company would be buried, adding that he couldn't comment on a private family ceremony.
St. Petersburg's Fontanka news outlet and some other media said the 62-year-old Prigozhin could be laid to rest as early as Tuesday at the city's Serafimovskoye cemetery, which has been used for high-profile military burials. Heavy police cordons encircled the cemetery, where Putin's parents are also buried, but no service was immediately held and increased police patrols also were seen at some other city cemeteries.
Later in the day, a funeral was held at St. Petersburg's Northern Cemetery for Wagner's logistics chief Valery Chekalov, who died in the Aug. 23 crash alongside Prigozin. Several hearses were seen driving from a central hall used for memorial ceremonies to Beloostrovskoye cemetery on the city's outskirts, but they later drove away.
The tight secrecy and confusion surrounding the funeral of Prigozhin and his top lieutenants reflected a dilemma faced by the Kremlin amid swirling speculation that the crash was likely a vendetta for his mutiny.
While it tried to avoid any…