MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Friday scolded U.S. President Joe Biden for expressing his lack of surprise that Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin had been killed in a plane crash and cautioned that it was not appropriate for Washington to make such remarks.
Biden on Wednesday said he was not surprised by reports about Prigozhin's death, adding that not much happens in the country that President Vladimir Putin is not behind.
"I’m not surprised," Biden said. "There is not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind, but I don’t know enough to know the answer."
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said such remarks illustrated Washington's disregard for diplomacy.
"Still, it is not for the U.S. president, in my opinion, to talk about such tragic events of this kind," Ryabkov was quoted by the state TASS news agency as saying.
Putin sent his condolences to the Prigozhin's family on Thursday, calling him a talented businessman who knew how to look after his own interests and who could, when asked, do his bit for the common cause.
But he also described Prigozhin as a flawed character who had made some bad mistakes.
"I want to express my most sincere condolences to the families of all the victims. It's always a tragedy," Putin said in televised remarks made during a meeting in the Kremlin with the Moscow-installed chief of Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
"I had known Prigozhin for a very long time, since the start of the 90s. He was a man with a difficult fate, and he made serious mistakes in life."
(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge/Andrew Osborn)