A close confidant of Vladimir Putin has reportedly sent a bloodied sledgehammer to the European Parliament.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is wanted by the FBI, was responding to a vote on whether Russia’s war in Ukraine was to be seen as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, and whether his Wagner Group of mercenaries were “terrorists.”
The weapon, smeared with artificial blood, had the logo of the group on it and was handed over in a violin case.
The Wagner Group first appeared in 2014 during Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and has been seen as a vehicle for Prigozhin to establish himself in politics.
The stunt appears to be in response to an execution of a former mercenary who changed sides during Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, who was killed with a sledgehammer.
Yevgenny Nuzhin, 55, said he was abducted in Kyiv in October, and a video of his execution was shared on a Telegram account previously linked to the Wagner Group.
It is not known whether MEPs have seen the sledgehammer, but sources told The Telegraph they believe the incident to be a stunt.
Prigozhin has been nicknamed as Putin’s “chef” after he was seen serving food to Russian guests, including former US President George W. Bush.