Dmitry Menshikov, a Wagner PMC fighter who died in Ukraine, was buried at the military site of the Beloostrovsky cemetery in St. Petersburg. Menshikov was recruited for the war in a colony, where he was serving a sentence for selling drugs (parts 3, 4, 5 of article 228.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). He was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison in February 2022.
The founder of PMC Wagner, Putin's "cook" Yevgeny Prigozhin arrived at the cemetery. He showed up two hours before the ceremony, spoke to journalists from the state media and to staff from RIA FAN, a publication linked to Prigozhin himself. After talking with the audience, the founder of PMC Wagner left the cemetery without waiting for the burial.
“The easiest guy is Dima Menshikov. <...> He lived in an orphanage, left the orphanage, joined the army - honestly, like everyone else. I didn’t hide, I didn’t hide, I didn’t ask my mom and dad to send me to Paris, Dubai or somewhere else. I just joined the army, served, after that I decided to get married, worked as a welder. There was not enough money - he decided to earn money, went to prison. This can happen to anyone, ”Prigozhin told RIA Novosti.
After Prigozhin left, more than 20 military personnel were centrally brought to the cemetery, who participated in the funeral of Menshikov, and about 50 people also arrived, including members of the “Combat Brotherhood” organization of local wars, as well as from the “LDPR youth organization”.
More than 15 respondents from those present at the funeral told the Sever.Realii correspondent that they did not know the deceased either personally or in absentia.
Menshikov was buried at the military station at the Beloostrovsky cemetery. This was preceded by a conflict between Prigozhin and the authorities of St. Petersburg and Governor Alexander Beglov. Prigozhin promised that he would bury his fighter on the Walk of Fame of the Beloostrovsky cemetery. According to the businessman, in other regions of the country, PMC Wagner fighters are buried in areas for military personnel, which are usually called the Walk of Fame or the Walk of Heroes. Petersburg authorities stated that PMC mercenaries were not officially military personnel and refused to be buried at the military site, also saying that there was simply no such alley at the cemetery.
Prigozhin, in response to this, stated that Governor Beglov "tried on the duties of the Lord" by not giving consent to the burial of Menshikov on the Alley of Heroes. The businessman insisted that the Wagner PMC fighter should be interred there.
Prigozhin addressed an open letter to the speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin. “We are faced with a monstrous bureaucracy on the part of St. Petersburg officials,” Prigogine wrote.
The heroes who died for the Motherland cannot be divided into servicemen, volunteers and PMC fighters, Volodin replied in response to the businessman's appeal.
In mid-December, the Alley of Valor was opened at the Beloostrovsky cemetery, where they will bury both military personnel and other categories of dead who take part in the war in Ukraine. The head of the press service of the governor of St. Petersburg, Inna Karpushina, told RBC that due to the absence of the Alley of Glory at the cemetery, the authorities of St. Petersburg decided to allocate a site and call it the Alley of Valor in order to bury Menshikov, who died in November.
The vice-governor of St. Petersburg, Kirill Polyakov, who is responsible for the sphere of ritual services, called what is happening “political fuss”, accusing Prigozhin personally of inflating the scandal.
At the end of October, Prigozhin asked the Prosecutor General's Office to check the governor of St. Petersburg for the creation of an organized crime group. According to Prigozhin, her possible goals were "plundering the state budget" and "enriching corrupt officials." The press service of the owner of PMC Wagner reports that the application has already been sent to the Prosecutor General's Office.
On November 22, Prigozhin, “Putin’s chef,” said in an interview with Nevsky News that he had invested up to 2 billion rubles in the election campaign of Governor Beglov and hoped to receive a project for 186 billion rubles from St. Petersburg. According to Prigozhin, before the elections, which were held in 2019, “ important person" told him that he could spend as much money on the campaign as needed. He promised to return the entire amount, however, according to Prigozhin, this never happened.