Wagner’s Yevgeny Prigozhin reportedly killed in plane crash
The person behind a failed June uprising in Russia, Yevgeny Prigozhin has been reported dead.
Rosaviatsia, the Russian aviation authority, said the Wagner paramilitary chief as well as a senior Wagner commander Dmitry Utkin were among 10 people onboard a business jet that crashed Wednesday while flying between Moscow and St Petersburg, the leader’s home city.
While the cause of the accident in the Tver region remains unclear, Prigozhin’s failed mutiny and longstanding feud with the military would possibly give several individuals ample motive for revenge. A video posted online apparently showed the jet bursting into flames upon impact.
“I’m Not Surprised,” Says Biden
Prigozhin has been reported as using the Embraer jet, which has been under US sanctions since 2019 owing to its connection to the chief. Following Wednesday evening’s incident, media channels linked to the group suggested a Russian air defence missile had downed the aircraft.
The Wagner chief was accompanied in the plane by his personal security detail, Utkin, a cameraman and the group’s logistics manager, according to Fontanka, a St Petersburg outlet that has covered Prigozhin’s operations extensively.
“I’m not surprised,” said US President Joe Biden, after a briefing on the incident, adding “there is not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind, but I don’t know enough to know the answer.” Prigozhin’s Wagner group played a key role in the fight for Bakhmut in Ukraine.
Prigozhin’s Death Would Require Additional Confirmation From Authorities
Late in June, as the international community closely monitored the developments in Russia, troops loyal to Prigozhin marched hundreds of kilometres toward Moscow only for the Wagner leader to suddenly call off the armed uprising and agree to go into exile.
An estimated 15 Russian servicemen lost their lives in the mutiny. Many were still surprised over Prigozhin managing to avoid more severe punishments. For weeks, he was said to be travelling between Russia, neighbouring Belarus and even Africa.
Nevertheless, some commentators noted that the Wagner chief’s death would require additional confirmation from authorities as he was known to have a number of doubles, disguises and fake passports, all of which surfaced during a raid on his residence after the uprising.