A Russian newspaper says administration and security service officials decided to keep the funeral of Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin secret in an attempt to prevent people from seeing him as a hero.
On Tuesday, Russia's state-run media announced that Prigozhin had been buried at a cemetery on the outskirts of his hometown of St. Petersburg. It said that only his relatives and close friends were allowed to attend the funeral at the request of his family.
But, The Moscow Times on Wednesday published an article on its website quoting two Russian officials as saying the funeral format was the subject of several consultations involving senior Kremlin officials and officers of the Federal Security Service, or FSB.
It says the talks involved the Kremlin's First Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko. He is one of President Vladimir Putin's close aides.
The sources say the funeral was kept secret to prevent members of the public and mercenaries from gathering for the ceremony and to block people from posting videos and photos of it on social media.
The article also cites an official as indicating that the administration wanted to avoid people from regarding Prigozhin as a hero because some in Moscow and other cities were paying their respects to him.
Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash in northwestern Russia on August 23, two months after he led a brief armed mutiny amid his confrontation with the Russian defense ministry.
Meanwhile, Russian media reports say the co-founder of Wagner, Dmitry Utkin, was buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of Moscow on Thursday. Utkin died in the plane crash with Prigozhin.