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Wagner boss Prigozhin presumed dead after Russia plane crash


Aug 23, 2023


MOSCOW — Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the passenger list of a jet which crashed killing all on board, Russia’s civil aviation authority has said.

Earlier, Wagner-linked Telegram channel Grey Zone reported the Embraer aircraft was shot down by air defenses in the Tver region, north of Moscow.

The jet, which was flying from the capital to St. Petersburg, was carrying seven passengers and three crew.

Prigozhin led a failed mutiny against the Russian armed forces in June.

Grey Zone said local residents heard two bangs before the crash and saw two vapor trails.

Tass news agency said the plane, a private Embraer Legacy, caught fire on hitting the ground, adding that four bodies had already been found.

The aircraft had been in the air for less than half an hour, it said.

The 62-year-old mercenary boss headed the mutiny on June 23-24, moving his troops from Ukraine, seizing the southern Russian city of Rostov on Don, and threatening to march on Moscow.

The move came after months of tension with Russian military commanders over the Ukraine conflict.

The stand-off was settled by a deal which allowed Wagner troops to move to Belarus, or join the Russian army.

Prigozhin himself agreed to relocate to Belarus but has apparently been able to move freely, being seen in Russia and also reportedly visiting Africa.

Russian authorities said Prigozhin was one of ten passengers listed for the flight, although it is not yet clear whether he was on board at the time.

A business jet en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg crashed Wednesday, killing all ten people on board, Russian emergency officials said.

Russia’s civilian aviation regulator, Rosaviatsia, confirmed that Prigozhin was on the passenger list. However, it was not immediately clear if he had boarded the flight.

Russia’s state news agency Tass cited emergency officials as saying that the plane carried three pilots and seven passengers.

The authorities said they were investigating the crash, which occurred in the Tver region more than 100 kilometers north of Moscow.

Flight tracking data shows a private jet registered to Wagner that Prigozhin had used previously took off from Moscow on Wednesday evening and its transponder signal disappeared minutes later.

The signal was lost in a rural region where there are no nearby airfields where the jet could have landed safely.

Video shared widely on social media channels, including by a senior advisor to the Ukrainian government, appears to show a plane fall from the sky, and then burst into flames on the ground.

The authenticity of those videos could not be immediately verified.

This week, Prigozhin posted his first recruitment video since the mutiny, saying that Wagner is conducting reconnaissance and search activities, and “making Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa even more free.” — Agencies


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