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Putin to not attend funeral of Yevgeny Prigozhin

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Yevgeny Prigozhin, the enigmatic figure at the helm of a powerful Russian mercenary group, was quietly laid to rest on the outskirts of St. Petersburg on Tuesday. 

His burial came six days after a baffling plane crash claimed his life, marking an end to a life of dominance and controversy.

The Kremlin announced on Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin would not be in attendance at the funeral.

Contrasting with the flamboyant persona he cultivated while alive, Prigozhin’s funeral unfolded in an understated manner, away from the prying eyes of the media.

The ceremony was in stark contrast to the audacious self-promotion that had characterised Prigozhin’s reputation, both in Russia and internationally, for his ambition and ruthlessness.

A terse message on his press service’s Telegram channel announced the private farewell: “The farewell to Yevgeny Viktorovich took place in a closed format. Those who wish to say goodbye may visit Porokhovskoye cemetery.”

The fatal plane crash, which occurred on August 23, claimed Prigozhin’s life along with two top Wagner group associates and four bodyguards. The Embraer Legacy 600 private jet they were aboard crashed to the north of Moscow, with the circumstances surrounding the crash remaining shrouded in mystery.

Tragically, Prigozhin’s death came exactly two months after his brief uprising against the Russian defence establishment, which posed one of the most significant challenges to President Vladimir Putin’s rule since his ascent to power in 1999.

Images and footage released by Reuters on Tuesday depicted Prigozhin’s resting place adorned with flowers in the serene Porokhovskoye cemetery. Law enforcement officers and members of the Rosgvardiya national guard were observed in the vicinity.

A cemetery staff member shared details of the restrained ceremony, noting that only 20 to 30 friends and family attended, and the entire event lasted a mere 40 minutes.

In an unexpected development from Washington, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made a bold assertion regarding the potential involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Prigozhin’s demise. She stated, “We all know that the Kremlin has a long history of killing opponents. It’s very clear what happened here.”

The clandestine nature of the funeral precluded it from becoming a large-scale display of support for Prigozhin, a polarising figure who garnered a degree of admiration within Russia for committing his forces to the most intense battles during the Ukrainian conflict. He was also known for openly criticising the Russian military and leadership.

Leading up to the burial, admirers had assembled impromptu memorials adorned with flowers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other locations.

The Kremlin vehemently denied claims that Putin orchestrated Prigozhin’s demise in retaliation for the mutiny staged in June.

After months of brazenly criticising Putin’s top brass and openly condemning their handling of the Ukrainian war, Prigozhin seized control of the city of Rostov in late June.

His forces downed multiple Russian aircraft and advanced menacingly toward Moscow before halting their progress just 200 km (125 miles) from the capital.

What initially painted Prigozhin as a traitor who might plunge Russia into civil war eventually led to a negotiated resolution with Putin to defuse the crisis.

The day following the fatal crash, Putin conveyed condolences to the families of the victims and acknowledged his long-standing acquaintance with Prigozhin, dating back to the tumultuous early 1990s.

Putin characterised Prigozhin as a man marked by a challenging destiny and notable life mistakes, while also acknowledging his business acumen.

Prior to the uprising, Prigozhin humorously suggested that he should be known as “Putin’s butcher” instead of “Putin’s chef,” a nickname derived from his catering company’s contracts with the Kremlin.

Despite his loyalty to Putin, Prigozhin openly criticised Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, even going as far as to suggest he should be executed for his perceived betrayal.

In the wake of Prigozhin’s demise, Putin issued an order for Wagner fighters to pledge allegiance to the Russian state—a step that Prigozhin had contested due to his resentment towards the defence ministry’s handling of the Ukrainian conflict.

Genetic testing confirmed the identities of all 10 individuals who lost their lives in the plane crash, which included two pilots and a flight attendant.

Earlier on Tuesday, the funeral of Wagner logistics head Valery Chekalov took place at another cemetery in St. Petersburg.

Attendees included numerous individuals identified as Wagner mercenaries and employees from Prigozhin’s expansive business empire.

A Russian Orthodox priest presided over Chekalov’s burial, offering prayers and swinging a censer as mourners came forward to pay their respects.

With Prigozhin’s passing, uncertainty looms over the future of his substantial business empire, encompassing mercenary operations across various African countries where he secured significant mining agreements for precious metals and diamonds.

His influence also played a role in advancing Russian security interests in competition with global powers like France and the United States.

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BREAKING: Shots ring out at Trump rally

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Donald Trump was whisked off the stage at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania after loud noises rang through the crowd.

Trump was showing off a chart of border crossing numbers when bangs started ringing through the crowd. Trump could be seen reaching with his right hand toward his neck. There appeared to be blood on his face.

He quickly ducked behind the riser as agents from his protective detail rushed the stage and screams rang out from the crowd. The bangs continued as agents tended to him on stage.

His motorcade has left the venue.

In a statement, Trump says he is “fine” and says he is being checked at a medical facility.

Donald Trump was safe, the U.S. Secret Service and his campaign said on Saturday after multiple shots rang out at a rally by the Republican presidential candidate in Pennsylvania as video showed Trump grimacing and raising a hand to his right ear.
The former president had just started his speech when gunshots erupted and Trump and other rally attendees hit the deck. Secret Service agents swarmed around him and live video showed blood on the right side of Trump’s face and ear.
 
Trump repeatedly raised his fist in the air, with an American flag visible behind him, as security ushered him away.
“The Secret Service has implemented protective measures and the former president is safe,” a spokesperson for the agency said on X after what it called an incident.
“This is now an active Secret Service investigation and further information will be released when available.”

A map of the site, showing where the alleged gunman was situated compared to Donald Trump.

CNN reported that Trump was injured, but gave no other details. It was not clear how or what injuries he may have sustained.

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NASA astronauts phone home, confident Boeing’s Starliner will return to Earth safely

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Stranded NASA astronauts express confidence in Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, assuring its capability to safely transport them back to Earth from the International Space Station.

The astronauts, over a video call to NASA, highlighted Starliner’s enhanced safety features and testing protocols as reassuring factors for their safe return.

“I have a real good feeling in my heart that this spacecraft will bring us home, no problem…”, said Sunita “Suni” Williams, one of the stranded NASA astronauts.

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Franchising vs. Independent: key differences to choosing the right SMB model

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With latest Australian Federal budget, many SMB’s are weighing their options when selecting a suitable business model.

Franchising provides brand recognition, operational support, and economies of scale but involves ongoing fees.

Independent businesses offer full control and profit retention but face higher costs and regulatory challenges.

For risk and reward, the franchising model reduces risk through established practices and support but involves ongoing fees and profit-sharing with the franchisor.

On the alternative, independent businesses retain full control of profits but face higher risks and responsibilities in managing the business.

Sonia Shwabsky, CEO at Kwik Kopy Australia, joins to share her key insights on SMB’s. #featured

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