Russia |

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin presumed dead after Russia plane crash

August 24, 2023
[caption id="attachment_1697" align="alignleft" width="570"]Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin presumed dead after Russia plane crash Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed as a passenger on a private jet which crashed north of Moscow on Wednesday, the TASS news agency reports, citing Rosaviatsia, Russia's aviation authority. [File: PMC Wagner via Telegram via Reuters][/caption]According to Russia's civil aviation authorities, the head of Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the passenger list of the plane that crashed, killing everyone on board. The Embraer aircraft was reportedly shot down by air defences in the Tver area, north of Moscow, according to the Telegram channel Grey Zone with connections to Wagner. Seven passengers and three staff members were on board the private aircraft, which was travelling from Moscow to St. Petersburg. In June, Prigozhin was the leader of a failed uprising against the Russian military. According to Grey Zone, there were two fringe and two vapour trails heard by nearby neighbours prior to the collision. According to the Tass news agency, Prigozhin's Embraer Legacy caught fire as soon as it touched down. Less than 30 minutes had passed since the plane took to the air, it continued. Emergency personnel are scouring the scene while an investigation into the collision is underway. Eight bodies have been found, according to Ria, a different news source. According to Grey Zone, Prigozhin's second private plane touched down in the Moscow area without incident. Wagner was established in 2014 by the 62-year-old mercenary chief, and it currently boasts roughly 25,000 fighters. The gang has a history of violence and has been active in Ukraine, Syria, and west Africa. On June 23 and 24, Prigozhin led the mutiny by pulling his forces out of Ukraine, taking control of Rostov on Don in southern Russia, and threatening to march on Moscow. Following months of disagreement over the crisis in Ukraine, the action was taken. A compromise that enabled Wagner troops to transfer to Belarus or enlist in the Russian army ended the standoff. Although Prigozhin himself consented to transfer to Belarus, he has appeared in public in Russia and released a film that appeared to show him in Africa. This suggests that he has been allowed to roam about without restriction. But several Russia watchers have described him as a "dead man walking" since the mutiny. President Putin's initial reaction to his challenge to Russia's defence establishment was vitriolic, calling it a betrayal and a stab in the back in a video message on 24 June. The deal did not mean he was safe. "Revenge", commented CIA director William Burns, "is a dish Putin prefers served cold" - or words to that effect. None of this, of course, is proof that Prigozhin and his entourage were deliberately targeted. But given the circumstances any claims that his demise, if confirmed, was an accident will see a lot of eyebrows raised. US White House spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said "no-one should be surprised" if the reports of Prigozhin's death were confirmed.

You May Like