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Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin Believed Dead in Plane Crash

Prigozhin
Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has reportedly died in a plane crash in Russia. Credit: Telegram / WAGNER_svodki

Wagner Group Leader Yevgeny Prigozhin reportedly died when his business jet crashed during a journey from Moscow to Saint Petersburg.

According to Russian authorities, all ten people on board the Embraer Legacy 600 business jet, including three crew members, died. Also reported was the death of one of Prigozhin’s closest associates, Dmitry Utkin, after whom the private military company (PMC) was named. Their bodies were reportedly identified.

Eyewitnesses have posted several photos and videos from the scene. In some of these, a burning plane is visible, plummeting from the sky, as well as the wreckage of the jet. The videos are accompanied by comments about the sounds of the explosions preceding the crash.

Prigozhin reportedly dead in plane crash

According to Russian media, Prigozhin returned from Africa today, with the entire command staff of the Wagner PMC with him.

The Fontanka outlet says that the second business jet, which is attributed to Prigozhin, has landed at a Moscow airport. Prior to that, it flew to St. Petersburg but then returned back.

A US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said that “no one should be surprised” by Prigozhin’s death.

Wagner mercenaries in Belarus

The Belarusian project for monitoring military activity reported that, after the incident, an Il-76 transport aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces flew into the country for the first time in the last month.

After the military rebellion of Prigozhin, Belarus became the base of Wagner PMC mercenaries.

Ukrainian reaction

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine, called the quick confirmation by representatives of the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency of the death of Prigozhin extremely surprising.

He noted that such a “demonstrative removal” of the head of Wagner is a signal to the Russian army that “any disloyalty will be punishable by death.”

Background

Only a day earlier, Prigozhin appeared in his first video address after the attempted rebellion. The head of Wagner claimed that he was in Africa and that the group’s activities were making the continent “freer” and “Russia greater.”

Prigozhin announced the beginning of a military rebellion in Russia on June 23rd. The next day, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a tough address to the nation, calling the instigators of the rebellion traitors and promised punishment to all participants.

The sequence of events took a dramatic turn when a Wagner camp reportedly faced a missile strike, as stated by Prigozhin. Subsequently, Wagner forces managed to seize a crucial strategic point located in southern Russia, Rostov on Don. A convoy composed of Wagner troops, with estimates ranging from five thousand to the ambitious claim of twenty thousand by Prigozhin himself, covered half the distance to Moscow within a day.

The Wagner Group has played a central role in some of the most consequential clashes of the Ukraine war, including in the battle of Bakhmut.

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